The Pro Kabaddi 2022 (PKL) is currently in its final phase. The playoffs got underway yesterday in Mumbai, where Bengaluru Bulls beat Dabang Delhi KC in Eliminator 1 while Tamil Thalaivas defeated UP Yoddhas in Eliminator 2.
The semifinals will take place tomorrow evening. Bengaluru Bulls will battle Jaipur Pink Panthers in the first semifinal, which will be followed by the Puneri Paltan vs. Tamil Thalaivas clash in the second semifinal.
Over the last few weeks, the kabaddi matches have captured the attention of fans from different parts of the world. Initially, only the Indian players dominated the league, but in Pro Kabaddi 2022, players from three foreign nations have not only featured in the playing seven of teams but also captained the side.
Gujarat Giants named Korean raider Dong Geon Lee as their captain for the final few matches, while Kenyan all-rounder Daniel Odhiambo captained the Patna Pirates in their last league game against Bengal Warriors. Iranian star Fazel Atrachali is the skipper of the Puneri Paltan team.
Players from Iran, South Korea and Kenya have regularly played in the Pro Kabaddi League, but there are three nations which were once represented in the PKL but have been absent from the kabaddi mat for a long time now. Let's take a look at those:
Pakistan's star defender Waseem Sajjad was a part of the Patna Pirates squad in the inaugural season of the Pro Kabaddi League. Sajjad executed some great tackles for the Patna-based franchise. His super tackle against U Mumba's Anup Kumar is still fresh in the minds of the fans.
Sajjad played 15 matches for Patna Pirates in PKL 1, earning 27 tackle points. He executed three super tackles that season. The Pakistani all-rounder was retained by Patna Pirates for the second edition, where he played two matches but did not score any points.
Patna Pirates released him before the third season. Since then, not a single player from Pakistan has played in the Pro Kabaddi League.
Former Poland kabaddi team captain Michal Spiczko made history in Pro Kabaddi 2015 when he became the first Polish player to play in the league. Bengaluru Bulls gave him an opportunity to showcase his talent on the mat. Spiczko could not score any tackle points but his presence on the mat captured the attention of the fans.
Bengaluru Bulls retained him for the third season but let him go before the fourth season. No other Polish player has ever been a part of the PKL.
Japanese kabaddi players have earned contracts from the PKL teams but they have rarely received opportunities to play on the mat. Last year, Telugu Titans roped in Japanese defender Abe Tetsuro. Although the team faced many injury issues, the Titans did not give an opportunity to Abe to showcase his talent.
While Abe never got a chance to play in the Pro Kabaddi, his compatriots Masayuki Shimokawa and Takamitsu Kono played for U Mumba and Dabang Delhi KC, respectively, in the first season. Kono also turned up for Puneri Paltan in the 2017 edition of the league.