Even as the country's efforts to bring back full-fledged international cricket is failing, Pakistan has arranged for exhibition football matches, in which international superstars Ronaldinho, Ryan Giggs along with six other top footballers will be participating.
The elite group, dubbed as "Ronaldinho and friends", is said to have arrived in Islamabad via a private jet on Saturday, July 8. Former Real Madrid star Roberto Carlos, who also played for Indian Super League franchise Delhi Dynamos, Nicolas Anelka, Ronaldinho, Robert Pires, Luis Boa Morte, David James and George Boateng, are part of the squad.
The stars will take on local Pakistan talents in a seven-a-side match in Karachi on Saturday before playing in Lahore on Sunday, July 9.
Former Chelsea captain John Terry was scheduled to arrive in Pakistan but he opted out in the final moments due to commitments with England's Aston Villa.
"I am excited at the prospect of playing in Pakistan. This is a great opportunity for us to induce youngsters in Pakistan and we will do our best to do that," Ronaldinho said in a statement, according to The Star.
Pakistan army is set to provide security to the players. Arrangements have been made to guard the stadiums and hotels where players will be staying over the weekend.
Pakistan organisers believe the high-profile exhibition matches will help bring back international sport to Pakistan, which has been a rarity even since terrorists attacked a visiting Sri Lankan cricket team in 2009.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had earlier confirmed a tour of World XI, consisting top international cricketers, to the country for three Twenty20 matches in September this year.
PCB were able to host the final of 2017 Pakistan Super League in Lahore. Top T20 stars, including Darren Sammy, Marlon Samuels and Chris Jordan, were involved in the high-profile encounter, which was won by Peshwar Zalmi.
The successful staging of the PSL final was seen as a move to promote the return of international cricket to Pakistan. At this juncture, "Ronaldinho and friends" visit may help the Asian country project itself better in the international sporting arena.