Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 9th 2017 Contents Sunday, July 9, 2017 guardian.co.tt
Ronaldinho, Giggs in
Pakistan for soccer
ISLAMABAD — Ronaldinho and Ryan Giggs
were among soccer stars to arrive in Pakistan
yesterday to play exhibition matches which
organizers hope will boost the sport in the
Dutchman George Boateng, former France players
Robert Pires and Nicolas Anelka, former England
goalkeeper David James and Portugal’s Luis Boa
Morte flew in via private jet to the capital Islamabad.
Pakistan Army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa hosted
a reception, saying “sports promote peace,” before
players flew out to Karachi for the first seven-a -
side exhibition match later Saturday amid heavy
security. The tour has been organized by a private
company, World Group, aiming to promote football
in Pakistan, which is No. 200 out of 211 in FIFA
rankings. Lahore will host the second exhibition
match on Sunday.
Pakistan has not hosted a major foreign team in
any sports since an attack on the Sri Lankan cricket
team’s bus in Lahore in 2009. “For us it’s a big mo-
ment,” Pakistan football captain Kaleemullah said.
“We didn’t ever dream that such big stars will come
to Pakistan. I grew up watching Ronaldinho on tel-
evision and I still can’t believe it, he’s in Pakistan.”
The 37-year-old Ronaldinho said in a statement he
was “excited at the prospect of playing in Pakistan.”
Cricket is the major sport in Pakistan, but English
Premier League, La Liga and Bundesliga soccer have
attracted a growing following among younger fans.
Tickets were priced from 2,000 to 30,000 rupees
($280) with 1,000 free tickets for young people in
Manchester United has a large following in Paki-
stan. “Pakistani fans have not seen (international)
players. This is a great opportunity to see footballers
live and in their home country,” former United great
Giggs told Geo Television in Dubai before flying in
a private jet to Pakistan. Back in Karachi, young
fans had started arriving at the stadium — heavily
guarded by army soldiers — hours before the match.
The stadium was decorated with giant-sized bill-
boards of the foreign players. Television footage
showed the players escorted by armed soldiers in
a convoy as they left Quaid-e-Azam International
Federer, Djokovic wonder if Wimbledon courts can improve
LONDON - With a week still to go,
Wimbledon’s grass courts already are
not the lush lawns players - and TV
viewers - are accustomed to seeing
early in the tournament.
Novak Djokovic noticed the ball bounc-
ing differently in some patches.
Roger Federer and his opponent slipped
during their third-round match.
The two past champions are wondering
what sort of work can be done on the mid-
dle Sunday, when there is no competition,
so the court conditions improve when
action resumes with all 16 fourth-round
singles matches scheduled for Monday.
“The first two matches I didn’t see any
significant difference. But I was hearing a
lot of comments from the other players.
They were complaining. Especially on the
outside courts,” Djokovic said after beating
Ernests Gulbis in straight sets at Centre
“Today, I could see there is a difference
in grass, in (the) turf itself. It was a bit
softer, I would say, especially around a
couple of feet inside and outside, around
the baseline area,” said Djokovic, a three-
time champion at the All England Club. “I
haven’t had that kind of experience before
in Wimbledon, to be honest. I mean, the
courts are always perfect here.”
Federer followed Djokovic on Centre
Court and described it as “a tad slippery”
after losing his footing during one point
in a victory over Mischa Zverev, who also
took a tumble.
“But I didn’t feel like it was unsafe,” said
Federer, who has won seven of his record
18 major titles at Wimbledon. “Maybe
you don’t want players to feel that way,
because the moment you become scared
of moving properly, it’s really difficult to
play, I must admit. The last thing we want
to see is horrible injuries.”
Some players voiced concerns about the
court conditions over the opening week,
including Kristina Mladenovic of France
and Alison Riske of the United States, who
each fell early during their second-round
match on Court 18 on Thursday.
Riske, who won the match, said after-
ward that the dirt “is like ice.”
Measurements taken throughout Wimbledon’s
first week show the grass courts are as healthy as
they have been in recent years, according to Neil
Stubley, the head of courts and horticulture at the
All England Club.
“We looked at the baselines and the areas that
they thought there was an issue,” Stubley said. “We
didn’t feel there was. The Grand Slam supervisor
and assistant referee didn’t believe that there was
either. When you look at the comparisons of other
courts ... they were in or around the same condition
as the other courts.”
Very little rain has fallen over the first six days
of the tournament, which Stubley said led to more
wear on the courts.
Still, although he acknowledged the courts are
under stress, he said there’s “not a doubt” they will
hold up throughout Wimbledon’s second week.
“Because we have daily monitoring, we can keep
a very tight rein on everything,” he said. “It never
gets to the point where it’s ever going to get away
from us because we’re on top of it every single day.”
Still, Djokovic was sure that something wasn’t
quite the same as in the past.
“I’m sure they know what they’re doing. They
know their job the best in the world. But you can
see that there is a slight difference in the quality
of the grass,” he said. “This year seems like it’s a
Noted Federer: “They have time to figure out how
they’re going to prep (the courts) for Monday.” (AP)
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