ISLAMABAD - Anxious wait of fans was finally over as eight popular international footballers including Brazilian legend and current club ambassador of FC Barcelona, Ronaldinho along with other international players landed at Benazir Bhutto International Airport Saturday.

The other international players include David James, George Botang, Luis Bova, Nicolas Anelka, Robert Pyres, Ryan Giggs, while Roberto Carlos will land directly at Karachi, as his daughter was not feeling well, so he had to change his schedule. Players were given red box security by Pakistan Army and were taken away to their destination under tight security.

All the international footballers met General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) before heading to Karachi where they would play first of the two scheduled matches of the event. The COAS thanked them for their visit to Pakistan. He said that Pakistan is a peace and sports loving country.

"Sports promote peace and your visit is most welcomed by all Pakistanis especially young footballers" the COAS remarked. The visiting players thanked COAS for organising their tour and the support. They said that Pakistan is a beautiful country and they look forward to enjoy the trip. COAS also thanked Leisure League for organizing the trip in collaboration with Pak Army and promoting peace & sports

While sharing his views soon after landing at the airport, Brazilian legend Ronaldinho said he was happy to be playing in Pakistan and hoped to provide a good show.

“Not only myself but everyone is happy to play here and hope to provide a good show,” When asked about the people of Lyari and how they admired him, the Brazilian legend responded that he was very happy to hear that. Big hug and a thank you for all the admiration and treating me so well,” Ronaldinho said in a message for the people of Karachi.

Ronaldinho said he was inspired to come to Pakistan after developing a relationship with the Trunkwala family and receiving an invitation from them. Ronaldinho added that he would perform the Samba dance after scoring a goal in the match.

The group of players named as "Ronaldinho and friends" will play with a group of Pakistani players for two seven a side matches in the country, scheduled to be held on Saturday in Karachi and Sunday in Lahore.

The "Ronaldinho and Friends" lineup includes Roberto Carlos, Nicolas Anelka, Ronaldinho, Robert Pires, Luis Boa Morte, David James, George Boateng and Ryan Giggs.

Manchester United hero Ryan Giggs, who is known as one of the greatest footballers in Manchester United's history, said he was looking forward to seeing the talent in Pakistan. Giggs mentioned that he was excited to come to Pakistan as he had never been there before. “Looking forward to seeing the talent there in Pakistan,” Giggs said.

The player spoke of travelling to different countries, promoting football, and how international footballers coming to Pakistan was a great opportunity for fans. “Pakistani fans have not seen players in the flesh. This is a great opportunity to see footballers live and in their home country,” Giggs stated.

When asked about the future of football in Pakistan, Giggs responded that he was aware that cricket was the number one sport but there were a lot of young and talented footballers in the country. “If these young and talented footballers are given a passageway and if they see the likes of me and Ronaldinho and want to be like us, then Pakistan’s football ranking will improve from 200 next year or the year after.”

Giggs said he was aware of the huge presence of Manchester United fans around the world and this was a great opportunity for Man-U fans in Pakistan to see one of the club's former players. The footballer also spoke about playing cricket, but said he could only bowl and not bat. “I grew up in the 80s when there was the great West Indies side and was fond of Viv Richards, Ian Botham, and Wasim Akram, who was at Lancashire right next door to where I played football. He was obviously left-handed, I am left-footed and he was a very talented cricketer also.”

The 43-year-old commented on how he might celebrate in Pakistani style if he scored a goal during the match.

Giggs, who retired after a long career with United in 2014, said he was "privileged" to take part. He replaced former England and Chelsea captain John Terry, who pulled out due to new commitments with English side Aston Villa.

Pakistan Army is providing security for the players and matches, deploying troops in and around hotels, airports and stadiums over the weekend, officials have said.

Pakistan boasted a top place in Asian football until the early 1970s, but a lack of government support and poor infrastructure helped push them to as low as 200th in the FIFA football rankings. The game is growing in popularity once more, however, even in a country obsessed with cricket.

Pakistan sports history’s most expensive tickets go on sale for the historic football match featuring world’s biggest soccer stars at Fortress stadium today (Sunday), the price of the tickets of the first ever such a high profile football match in Lahore have outshone the previous price tickets of all the major sports, even cricket the most popular sport of the country.

For Lahore match, six category of tickets have been offered, Platinum plus (Rs12,500), platinum (Rs12000), Gold (Rs8000), Silver (Rs5,500) Bronze (Rs2000) and VVIP (Rs 30,000).

The two match series with the first game will be held at Karachi on Saturday night has been named as “Leisure Leagues Pakistan” and the tour has been arranged by World Group led by Mahmood Trunkwala. Ronaldinho will leading one team and Ryan Giggs will captain the other side and both the teams will be a mix-up of foreign and local players.

While sharing his views Pakistan football team captain Kaleem Ullah said "It´s a great occasion," Kaleem who also played for Sacramento Republic FC in USA and Kyrgyzstan´s FC Dordoi Bishkek. He will take part in one of the matches.

Other Pakistani players in action with 'Ronaldinho and Friends' will be Saddam Hussain, Saadullah, Yousuf Butt, Abdul Aziz, Muhammad Essa, Ghulam Rasool, and star of street child football team Mohammad Razzik.