Chandigarh, Dec 19 (UNI) As many as 21 foreign players, including 10 from Netherlands, eight from Pakistan and three from South Korea, will feature in the fourth edition of the Premier Hockey League which will begin tomorrow with a match between Chandigarh Dynamos and Hyderabad Sutlans at the Sector 42 Hockey Stadium here.
Addressing a press conference here today, Indian Hockey Federation president KPS Gill said the international squad from Netherlands, Pakistan and South Korea had been allotted to 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 will get to see quality hockey. The format change this year will also add to the interest and there will be no room for complacenty for any team," said the IHF president.
The former Director General of Punjab Police said "This is a very important season for us, with Olympic qualifiers just three months away. The exposure that all India team aspirants will get during the PHL will definitely help in our preparations." Last year's champions Orissa Steelers will have the services of Diederik Mars (Dutch), Chul Kim (South Korea) and Pakistan goalkeeper Shakeel Abassi in their campaign in the fourth edition.
The IFH has allotted Ghazanfar Ali and Zeeshan Ashraf, both of Pakistan and Hib Zwerver (Duch) to Chandigarh Dynamos. Pakistan's Kamran Ahmed and Adnan Maqsood and Oscar Weeme (Dutch) have been included in the Hyderabad Sultans' team.
The foreign players who will serve Chennai Veerans are Cesco Van der Vliet and Eric-Jan Iding and Joost van den Bogart (all Dutch).
Melchuir Kiiuheb (Dutch), Rehan Butt (Pak) and Kang Moon Kweon (South Korea) are members of the Maratha Warriors.
Salam Akbar and Dilawar Hussain (both Pakistan) and Don Prins (Dutch) are in Sher-e-Jalandhar. Oliver Rutgers, Sebastian Westerhout (both Dutch) and You Jyo Sik (South Korea) will give foreign flavour to Bangalore Hi-Filers.
Chief Operating Officer, ESPN Software India Pvt Lit said the PHL 2007 would be a viewing spectacle like previous editions with comprehensive match analysis, pre-match and post-match shows and bi-lingual commentary in English and Hindi.
Meanwhile, PHL Technical Consultant Maurits Hendriks and national hockey coach of Spain team said "The PHL has helped the hockey fraternity to promote hockey not only in India but also outside India.
"Globally the PHL 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 penlaty shoot out and the concept of four quarters which were intially launched by the PHL." said Hendriks.
Fixtures: Dec 20: Chandigarh Dynamos Vs Hyderabad Sultans Dec 21: Chennai Veerans Vs Maratha Warriors and Orissa Steelers Vs Bangalore Hi-Fliers.
Dec 22: Sher-e-Jalandhar Vs Hyderabad Sultans and Orissa Steelers Vs Chandigarh Dynamos.
Dec 23: Bangalore Hi-Fliers Vs Maratha Warriors and Chennai Veerans Vs Sher-e-Jallandhar.
Dec 24: Orissa Steelers Vs Hyderabad Sultans.
Dec 25: Chandigarh Dynamos Vs Bangalore Hi-Fliers and Maratha Warriors Vs Sher-e-Jallandhar.
Dec 26: Orissa Steelers Vs Chennai Veerans.
Dec 27: Hyderabad Sultans Vs Bangalore Hi-Fliers.
Dec 28: Chandigarh Dynamos Vs Sher-e-Jallandhar.
Dec 29: Bangalore Hi-Fliers Vs Chennai Veerans and Orissa Steelers Vs Maratha Warriors.
Dec 30: Sher-e-Jallandhar Vs Bangalore Hi-Fliers and Chandigarh Dynamos Vs Maratha Warriors.
Dec 31: Chandigarh Dynamos Vs Chennai Veerans.
Jan 1: Chennai Veerans Vs Hyderabad Sultans.
Jan 2: Hyderabad Sultans Vs Maratha Warriors.
Jan 3: Orissa Steelers Vs Sher-e-Jallandhar.
Jan 4: Rest Day.
Jan 5: Rank 1 Vs Rank 4 (1st Semi finals). Rank 2 Vs Rank 3 (2nd Semi finals).
Jan 6: Rest Day.
Jan 7: Winner 1st Semi Vs Winner 2nd Semi (First Final) Jan 8: Rest Day.
Jan 9: Winner 1st Semi Vs Winner 2nd Semi (Second Final) Jan 10: Rest Day.
Jan 11: Winner 1st Semi Vs Winner 2nd Semi (third Final, if necessary).