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Ronaldinho, Giggs call for investment in football infrastructure

Updated July 10, 2017
LAHORE: Brazilian football legend Ronaldinho (C) evades a challenge by Pakistan international Mohammad Ahmed during an exhibition match at the Fortress Stadium on Sunday.—M.Arif/White Star
LAHORE: Brazilian football legend Ronaldinho (C) evades a challenge by Pakistan international Mohammad Ahmed during an exhibition match at the Fortress Stadium on Sunday.—M.Arif/White Star

LAHORE: Brazilian football great Ronaldinho Gaucho and Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs were unanimous in saying that Pakistan should invest in infrastructure and academies besides inviting international coaches to promote the game in the country.

The duo, along with the five other international footballers, were speaking to media at a local hotel ahead of their second exhibition match in Lahore, following a match in Karachi.

The other players were England’s David James, France’s Nicolas Anelka and Robert Pires, Portugal’s Luis Boa Morte and Netherlands’ George Boateng.

Acknowledging that in outside world Pakistan is known for its cricket, Giggs said it was encouraging to find that there was a lot of individual talent.

“Every league and association in the world needs right infrastructure and coaching and same is true for Pakistan to improve its international ranking. Pakistan currently stands at 200th in the FIFA ranking; there are 206 teams in total,” he said.

In order to reach to the next level, Giggs said organisers needed to bring in the best coaches in the world so that a culture of football in Pakistan could flourish.

Ronaldinho also called for offering conducive environment to the young generation.

Lauding the local football players, who played in seven-a-side exhibition matches, he said the players “needed to be coached at international standards to reach next level of the game”.

Giggs said the exhibition matches had given a message to the world that Pakistan is safe for sports.

After Ronaldinho-VII won the opening match 2-1 in Karachi, they clinched the overall trophy by winning the second match 2-0 here at the Fortress Stadium.

Published in Dawn, July 10th, 2017