Chandigarh, Dec 19 (UNI) Twenty-one foreign players, including three from South Korea, first timers in the tournament, willbe seen in action in the fourth edition of the Premier Hockey League (PHL) beginning here tomorrow.
The inaugural match at the Sector 42 Hockey Stadium will be played between Chandigarh Dynamos and Hyderabad Sultans.
Out of 21 from abroad, 10 were from Netherlands, nine from Pakistan and three from South Korea.
In all, 26 matches will be played over the next 22 days in the seven-team tournament for a total prize money of Rs. 76 lakhs.
The winning team will get Rs. 40 lakhs, the runners-up Rs 20 lakhs while the losing semi-finalists win Rs.5 lakhs each.
Last year, Orissa Steelers had won the tournament while Sher-e-Jalandhar were the runners-up.
Indian Hockey Federation President KPS Gill said, ''The international contingent from the Netherlands, Pakistan and South Korea have been allocated to the seven participating teams after detailed discussions with the respective state associations.'' ''We have taken utmost care to ensure that all the teams are equally balanced so that the spectators get to see quality hockey.
The format change this year will also add to the interest and there will no room for complacency for any team.
''This is a very important season for us. With the Olympics qualifiers just three months away, the quality match exposure that all India team aspirants will get during the league will definitely help in our preparations,'' said Gill.
Maurits Hendriks, Technical Consultant of PHL and coach of Spanish national hockey team, said, ''PHL has helped the hockey fraternity promote hockey not only in India but also outside India.'' ''Globally the league has become so popular that it has actually inspired the launch of the European Hockey League earlier this year.
The European league has also accepted innovations like the penalty shoot out and the concept of four quarters which were initially launched in PHL.
''This year, we have also made some alterations in the rules to nforce better discipline. The most significant rule change is that even a green card will mean that the erring player will not be allowed to participate in the game for a period of two minutes.
ThisI am sure will deter players from any rough play,'' said Maurits.
Foreign players in each team: Orissa Steelers: Diederik Mars (Dutch), Chul Kim (South Korea), Shakeel Abbasi (Pak) Chandigarh Dynamos: Ghazanfar Ali (Pak), Huib Zwerver(Dutch), Zeeshan Ashraf (Pak) Hyderabad Sultans: Kamran Ahmed(Pak), Adnan Maqsood((Pak), Oscar ter Weeme (Dutch) Chennai Veerans: Cesco Van Der Vliet (Dutch), Eric-Jan Iding (Dutch), Joost van den Bogart (Dutch) Maratha Warriors: Melchior Looijen (Dutch), Rehan Butt (Pak), Kang Moon Kweon (South Korea) Bangalore Hi-Fliers: Olivier Rutgers (Dutch), Sebastian Westerhout (Dutch), You Hyo Sik (South Korea) Sher-e-Jallandhar: Salman Akbar (Pak), Don Prins (Dutch), Dilawar Hussain (Pak) UNI