The most significant testimony to Pro Kabaddi League’s success is the fact that more and more international players are interested in the league. Not only that, but owners have also started investing in foreign players. And after Iran’s Gold Medal at the 2018 Asian Games, the seventh season is set to be even more exciting. And here are the top seven foreign players in PKL you should watch out for:
1Fazel Atrachali (U Mumba)
No surprises here, Fazel Atrachali is without a doubt, the best foreign player in Pro Kabaddi League. The defender will be leading U Mumba less than a year after captaining Iran to the Gold Medal at the 2018 Asian Games.
Fazel has been the best in the business for some time now, staying rock solid on the left corner. The 27-year old has already won the league with U Mumba in 2015. Last season he scored 83 tackle points, third-best in the league.
The Iranian has already started this season on a high, keeping Siddharth Desai and Telugu Titans quiet in the first game of the seventh season.
2Jang Kun Lee (Patna Pirates)
One team’s loss is another team’s gain. Jang Kun Lee spent six seasons with Bengal Warriors and won 433 points, most by a foreigner in PKL. But the Warriors did not retain his services for the seventh season and look where he is now – With the three-time champions Patna Pirates, leading the attack with none other than Pardeep Narwal.
The Korean international has a unique style when it comes to raiding, making life difficult for defenders. With his martial arts-like moves and signature kick, the raider is one of the most dangerous players to deal with.
Lee has managed 412 raid points in his PKL career so far. This time, the 26-year old will be looking to run havoc through opposition’s defence with Pardeep Narwal and co.
3Meraj Sheykh (Dabang Delhi)
Meraj Sheykh is without a doubt one of the best all-rounders in Pro Kabaddi League – Indian or foreigner. The Iranian international is not only a quality raider and defender, but with experience and an ability to stay calm in all situations, he is also one of the most excellent leaders. Sheykh became the first foreign captain in PKL, leading Telugu Titans in 2015. He will once again be the captain of Dabang Delhi in the seventh season.
Sheykh was the best all-rounder in the fifth season with 104 points. The 31-year old has scored 309 raid points 53 tackle points in his PKL career which started in season 2.
The Iranian has already expressed his desire to win the title with Dabang Delhi. After making it to the playoffs for the first time in the club history last year, both Sheykh and Delhi will be eager to cross the final hurdle this time.
4Mohammed Esmaeil Nabibakhsh (Bengal Warriors)
The crucial part of Iran’s Gold Medal winning team at the 2018 Asian Games, Mohammed Esmaeil Nabibakhsh is the most expensive foreign player of the seventh season. The all-rounder was bought by Bengal Warriors for ₹77.75 lakh.
Although this is Mohammed’s first season in PKL, the all-rounder has proved his worth at the semi-final of the Asian Games. He won 5 points in the low-scoring match against India to make it to the final. Mohammed also proved that ₹77.75 lakh could be a bargain for Bengal, earning 10 raid points in the team’s first game.
5Mohammad Esmaeil Maghsoudlou (Patna Pirates)
If Pardeep Narwal and Jang Kun Lee in the attack wasn’t scary enough for Patna Pirate’s opponents, they have another bad news waiting in the form of Mohammad Esmaeil. The Pirates bought the Iranian for ₹35 lakh, and with 11 points in just 2 games, he is already proving his worth.
The raider was especially exceptional against Bengaluru Bulls in the first game of the season, where he won 9 points. In an all-round performance, Mohammad won 4 raid points, 2 tackle points, and 3 bonus points. Patna will expect the Iranian to perform the same way for the rest of the season as they look for the record fourth season.
6Saeed Ghaffari (Dabang Delhi)
Yet another Iranian and yet another player from the Gold medal-winning squad, the 27-year old Saeed Ghaffari is a player to watch out for in PKL. The left cover defender was a crucial part of Iran’s defence along with Atrachali and Mighani.
Saeed has won 5 tackle points in two games, four of them coming in just five attempted tackles against Haryana Steelers. The Iranian will definitely get more opportunities, and along with Meraj Sheykh, he will try to keep Dabang Delhi where they are now – at the top of the standings.
7Dong Geon Lee (U Mumba)
The South Korean raider was bought by U Mumba for ₹25 lakh in the player auction. Dong Geon Lee was a part of South Korea’s first-ever silver medal-winning team at the Asian Games. He will be looking to keep the same form throughout PKL7.
The raider has played for Tamil Thalaivas and Gujarat Fortune Giants in 2017 and 2018, respectively, winning 60 points in 28 games. This season, Lee has already won seven points in two games. In the match against Jaipur Pink Panthers, despite the poor performance from the rest, Lee won 6 raid points.