Aston Villa to compete in tournament after four-year absence

A general view of Aston Villa’s Villa Park stadium (Image: Eddie Keogh/Getty Images)

Aston Villa will be returning to Hong Kong to take part in the first HKFC Soccer Sevens tournament since 2019 next month. Villa have won the tournament on six occasions previously, since its inception in 1999, and they are in fact the most successful team in its history.

The competition, which normally occurs annually, hasn’t taken place since 2019 because of the Covid pandemic, but it has been confirmed that it will return in 2023 – and Villa will be sending a team over to compete, as they have done so often previously.

They have won the trophy in 2002, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2016, and the player of the tournament awards in that time have been won by the likes of Gabby Agbonlahor, Barry Bannan and Khalid Abdo. Newcastle United, though, are the current holders – indeed they’ve won the last two renewals of the competition.

Villa and Newcastle this year will be joined by Leicester City, Fulham and Brighton, as well as Rangers who’ll travel over from Scotland. The Hong Kong Football Association will also be represented by a team, while domestic champions Kitchee and fellow Hong Kong outfit WoFoo Tai Po will also participate.

“We are delighted to be returning to the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens next month,” Villa academy manager Mark Harrison told the South China Morning Post.“We are looking forward to defending our record at the tournament and our players and staff are excited to come and experience all that the tournament has to offer. 

“We know from previous years what wonderful opportunities lie ahead both on and off the pitch. We would like to offer our best wishes to all of those involved and we look forward to seeing you all very soon.”

The Sevens tournament involves four groups of four teams and a round robin format – each game is made up of two halves of seven minutes apiece, before the quarter-finals, semis and the final itself take place – the finals games are ten minutes a half.

The draw takes place next week, overseen by former QPR, Newcastle and Tottenham striker Les Ferdinand, and the competition itself – which runs in tandem with a Masters Tournament equivalent – takes place between May 26-28.