World soccer stars to play exhibition match in India

Gangtok: World soccer stars of yesteryears such as Ruud Gullit, Ronaldo, Paolo Maldini and Rene Higuita will take on Indian celebrities in an exhibition match in January to raise funds for the earthquake-ravaged Sikkim.

Coached by Shyam Thapa, the Indian team consisting of footballers, filmstars and cricketers will exhibit their skill in the game at the exhibition match in Kolkata on January 16, said former Indian captain Bhaichug Bhutia, who is organising the extravaganza.

A portion of the proceedings would go towards his quake affected state while another part would be kept for former football greats of India in need, Bhutia told PTI.

The international team would field fancied names like Brazil`s Ronaldo and Cafu, Paolo Maldini of Italy, Samuel Eto`o of Cameroon, Frenchman Christian Karembu, Rene Higuita of Columbia and Patrick Kluivert of Netherlands.

Ruud Gullit will be the coach of the International XI, Bhutia said adding other details of the match would be announced in a press conference in Kolkata on December 16 where the Dutch legend would also be present.

Bhutia was in Mumbai recently to tie up celebrity and cross-disciplinary participation in the match, to be organised under the aegis of Football Players Association of India (FPAI) headed by Bhutia.

In September, Lionel Messi led Argentina played a FIFA friendly against Venezuela in Kolkata which had earlier seen Maradona (2008) and Pele (1977) in action.