Aston Villa in seventh heaven with record HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens win

Aston Villa 2023 HKFC Citi Soccer SevensChampions
Credit:HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens

HONG KONG, 28 May 2023–Aston Villa secured a record-extending seventh HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens title on Sunday as the Premier League outfit defeated Hong Kong’s Tai Po FC 3-0 at a packed Hong Kong Football Club to claim the trophy for the first time since 2016.

Omari Kellyman scored twice in the first half before Lee Ka-ho’s red card for a foul on the 17-year-old left Tai Po short-handed, with Frankie Ealing hitting his side’s third ahead of Luizinho’s late sending off, which saw the Hong Kong side finish the game with five players.

“At the start of the tournament we had a disappointing result against Tai Po, so to bounce back and win all the games after that hasn’t been an easy thing to do,” said Kellyman, who ended as the tournament’s leading scorer with five goals.

“But we did it and I’m proud ofthe boys. It’s been a great experience. The tournament has been all about experience and to come out here and play the game I love has been great.

“The physical side of the game, the heat is very different from England. Coming out here, you’ve got to runthe hard yards and do everything to the best of your ability. It’s been great.”

Tai Po had pulled off a surprise 1-0 win over Villa in the group meeting between the teams on Saturday but there was to be no repeat of that result as the Premier League sideraced into an early lead.

Kellyman gave Villa the perfect start when he bent the opener into the top corner with less than two minutes on the clock and, five minutes later, he doubled the advantage with another strike from outside the area, steering a low left-foot shot beyond Tse Ka Wing.

Lee’s clumsy attempt to halt Kellyman in the ninth minute saw him receive a direct red card and Villa exploited their advantage, with Ealing netting his side’s third from close range after a miss-hit attempted clearance by Tse.

Luizinho received a second yellow card seven minutes into the second half to leave Tai Po with only five players and effectively ensure Villa were crowned champions once again.

Earlier in the day, defending champions Newcastle United crashed out in the quarter-finals, losing 2-0 to Aston Villa, who took on Kitchee in the last four after the Hong Kong Premier League champions had seen off Queens Park Rangers.

Tai Po, meanwhile, notched up a 1-0 win over Leicester City to set up a semi-final meeting with Brighton & Hove Albion following their 1-0 win over fellow Premier League club Fulham.

The Hong Kong Premier League outfit eliminated Brighton & Hove Albion in a penalty shoot-out as Villa beat Kitchee to set-up the decider, with the English club ultimately emerging victorious.

In the Masters Event, defending champions Wallsend Boys Club retained the title with a 2-1 sudden-death extra-time win over 2018 winners Ampcontrol Discovery Bay in the final, with Kim Dong-jin netting the winner.

Wallsend had seen off Rio Cricket Association Athletic to advance to the final for the second tournament in a row while Ampcontrol Discovery Bay defeated Hong Kong Football Club Masters to progress to the decider.

The HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens was playedout in front of bumper crowds at the Hong Kong Football Club for the first time since 2019 after the event was forced to take a three-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The 2023 HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens has been a resounding success and I would like to thank all of our sponsors, the teams, Hong Kong Football Club members and the fans who turned out in fantastic numbers to support this very special event,” said Hong Kong Football Club Chairman Neil Jensen.“

It has been an honour for HKFC to be ableto play a role in the return of high quality sport to Hong Kong after the pandemic and we hope through future editions we can continue to showcase the positive qualities of our unique city and its love for this remarkable game.”

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Here, you’ll find all live information, including the fixture schedule, live scores, squad lists, event information and FAQs.

香港七人足球賽闊別3年復辦 維拉紐卡素來港爭標



香港足球會主席Neil Jensen表示:「我們非常高興終於能將香港足球會七人足球賽帶回香港,再次歡迎各地朋友及足球界同仁來到這個亞洲國際大都會。過去3年對各人來說都充滿挑戰,但香港對足球的熱情源遠流長,期待在香港足球會的球場上,再次看到全球最優秀的年輕足球員之身影。」

賽事於1999年首次舉辦,上次舉行已是2019年,由於新冠肺炎肆虐被迫休賽3年。今年來到第21屆比賽,將一連3天於下月26至28日舉行,共26隊參加主賽事及名人賽。下周三(4月26日)將舉行抽籤儀式,先後效力昆士柏流浪、熱刺及紐卡素等球會的英格蘭前國腳費迪南(Les Ferdinand)將前來香港足球會負責抽籤。


維拉學院經理Mark Harrison表示:「很高興下月能重返香港足球會七人足球賽,我們期待在比賽中捍衛我們的紀錄,球員及工作人員都很期待前來體驗此項比賽。根據前幾年經驗,我們知道在球場上和球場外都有很多美好機會。祝願所有參與人士一切順利,期待很快見到大家。」

Aston Villa and Newcastle United among Premier League clubs heading to Hong Kong for Soccer Sevens tournament

Newcastle United celebrate winning the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens in 2019. Photo: Handout

Six-time winners Aston Villa and defending back-to-back champions Newcastle United will headline a cast of Premier League clubs who have signed up for next month’s Citi Soccer Sevens, as the prestigious event returns to Hong Kong for the first time in four years.

The three-day tournament, which was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, will run from May 26 to 28 and feature 26 teams across a main event and masters tournament at Hong Kong Football Club.

Sixteen teams will compete in the main competition, with Aston Villa looking to win a record-extending seventh title and their first since 2016, while Newcastle will be aiming to become the first club to win the trophy at three consecutive events.

We are delighted to be returning to the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens next month,” Mark Harrison, Aston Villa’s academy manager, said. “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.”

Neil Jensen, the Hong Kong Football Club chairman (left), and Tony Bratsanos, the head of the Soccer Sevens, at Hong Kong Football Club. Photo: Edmond So

Other clubs coming to take part include Leicester City, who have won the event twice, as well as Brighton & Hove Albion and Fulham.

They will be joined by Scottish giants Rangers as well as a Hong Kong Football Association representative side, while domestic champions Kitchee and WoFoo Tai Po will fly the flag for the city’s top flight.

In the master’s tournament, the Citi All Stars will take on defending champions Wallsend Boys Club in a 10-team event that will also boast sides representing the Portuguese Football Association and the Professional Footballers’ Association.

Neil Jensen, the HKFC chairman, said the club was “absolutely thrilled” to bring the Soccer Sevens back to the city and “once again welcome our friends and colleagues to Asia’s world city”.

“The last three years have been challenging for everyone, but the love of football runs deep in Hong Kong and we are looking forward to seeing some of the finest young talent in the global game back on the pitch at Hong Kong Football Club,” the chairman said.

This year’s HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens will be the 21st edition of the competition, which was first held in 1999, and is the 10th tournament to be supported by Citi, with the company’s sponsorship of the tournament extending back to 2011.

“We are honoured and excited to be supporting this much-anticipated and always-entertaining competition again after a three-year break,” Chris Long, Citi Hong Kong’s chief administration officer, said.

“The Soccer Sevens has a rich history in Hong Kong and we thank the Hong Kong Football Club for bringing the tournament back, connecting the community, fans and some amazing players from all over the world.”

The draw for next month’s event will be conducted with the help of former England and Newcastle United striker Les Ferdinand at the Hong Kong Football Club on April 26 and the action will kick off with the masters tournament a month later. The main competition begins on May 27, with both competitions running through until May 28.

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.

Debutants Fulham and Portimonense to meet at HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens

The draw for the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens 2019 at Hong Kong Football Club. Photo by Ike Li / Eurasia Sport Images

Newcomers Fulham and Portimonense will face off in the group stage of the 2019 HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens following Wednesday’s draw for the 20th anniversary edition of the tournament at Hong Kong Football Club.  

The English and Portuguese sides will be joined in Group A by competition regulars West Ham United and local outfit HKFC Captain’s Select for the tournament, which will be held between May 17-19.  

Newcastle United begin the defence of their title, having beaten Rangers in the 2018 final, alongside Brighton & Hove Albion, current AFC Champions League holders Kashima Antlers from Japan and Hong Kong side Yau Yee League Select in Group C. 

Six-time winners Aston Villa will go head-to-head with two-time champions Leicester City in Group B in a repeat of the 2017 final, with the duo joined by nine-time Hong Kong champions Kitchee and Singapore Cricket Club. 

Finally, in Group D, Rangers return in search of their maiden HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens title against newcomers Wolverhampton Wanderers, HKFA Red Dragons and Hong Kong Football Club in Group D. 

“The group that intrigues me the most is Group A in the Main tournament which sees West Ham, who are always a strong side, and two newcomers in Portimonense and Fulham, so who knows how strong they’ll be,” said HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens Tournament Director Chris Plowman. 

“They’re going to be going up against our HKFC Captain’s Select team, so if there’s a group of death, I’m guessing that’s the one. 

“Leicester and Villa in the same group will be interesting and Kitchee as a local side are always very strong. Singapore Cricket Club have got some tough matches on their hands.” 

Hong Kong Football Association General Secretary Vincent Yuen (left),
Wayne Fong, Head of Corporate Affairs at Citi Hong Kong and Tournament Director Chris Plowman. Photo by Ike Li / Eurasia Sport Images

New Hong Kong national team head coach Mixu Paatelainen, who was only appointed earlier in April, also attended the draw.  

“It’s wonderful. There’s history to this tournament and you can see there are big clubs from England taking part,” said former Finland international Paatelainen. 

“Any international match is important for the youngsters in terms of development so an international tournament will be valuable for Hong Kong’s youngsters to play against hopefully the future stars of the Premier League, who it will be interesting to see playing.” 

In the Masters tournament, defending champions Discovery Bay have been paired in Group A with two-time winners Citi All Stars, last year’s runners-up Nottingham Forest Mobsters, HKFC Chairman’s Select and Singapore Cricket Club Masters. 

In Group B, meanwhile, playonPROS will play competition regulars Wallsend Boys Club, and Hong Kong sides Eleven FC, HKFC Masters and Kowloon Cricket Club Veterans. 

“It is a very exciting draw and you can see from the line-up it will be very fierce competition,” said Wayne Fong, Head of Corporate Affairs at Citi Hong Kong. 

“At Citi we are very proud to be sponsor again for the next three years and we are looking forward to a very exciting and successful event this year. 

“We like that the tournament changes every year and invites teams from all over the world to make it more diverse, allowing this tournament to be better and bigger.” 

Portimonense to become first Portuguese side at HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens

Portimonense. Photo: Portimonense

Portimonense will become the first team from Portugal to play at the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens when the Primeira Liga side run out at Hong Kong Football Club in May during the 20th anniversary of the seven-a-side tournament.

The side from Portimao in the Algarve region will join the likes of fellow newcomers Wolverhampton Wanderers and Fulham, defending champions Newcastle United, two-time winners Leicester City and six-time champions Aston Villa between 17-19 May.

They have never won a major trophy, but returned to Portugal’s top flight in 2017 after winning the LigaPro – Portugal’s second tier.

“Portimonense will become the first side from Portugal to play at Hong Kong Football Club and we are delighted to welcome them to the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens family as we celebrate our 20th anniversary,” said HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens Organising Committee Chairman Tony Bratsanos.

“Luís Boa Morte, who is a long-time friend of the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens having played in Hong Kong on several occasions, actually helped with Portimonense’s involvement. He was until recently the head coach of the U-23 side and had told them about our tournament and they were very keen to come.”

Portimonense reached their peak in the 1980s as they played the entire decade in the top flight, progressed to the Cup of Portugal semi-finals in 1983, 1987 and 1988, and also competed in the UEFA Cup in 1985–86.

On their most recent return to the top flight during the 2017/18 season, Portimonense finished 10th in the 18-team Primeira Liga.

“It is always great to welcome new teams, especially from new countries, and Luis’ help shows how much people remember their trips to Hong Kong that they want to tell others and encourage them to come. Like Wolves, another debutant this year, they actually contacted us and asked if they could participate,” added Bratsanos.

“We can’t wait to see what Portimonense bring to the pitch, and we all remember what Spain’s Atletico Madrid did on their debut in 2015 when they won the tournament at the first attempt.”

Last year’s beaten finalists Rangers from Scotland, West Ham United and Brighton & Hove Albion will also again join the strong British challenge this year, with Japan’s Kashima Antlers also returning to Hong Kong Football Club.

Hong Kong Premier League side Kitchee, HKFA Dragons, Hong Kong Football Club, Hong Kong Football Club Captain’s Select, Singapore Cricket Club and Yau Yee League Select complete the Main draw for the 2019 tournament.

In the Masters tournament, defending champions Discovery Bay, 2018 finalists Nottingham Forest Mobsters, two-time champions Citi All Stars, Wallsend Boys Club and playonPROS head a strong line-up.

Hong Kong Football Club Chairman’s Select, Hong Kong Football Club Masters, Singapore Cricket Club Masters, Yau Yee League Veterans and newcomers Eleven FC complete the draw.

The draw for the 2019 HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens will take place on Wednesday 17 April, 2019.

Wolves and Fulham to make debut at 20th anniversary HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens

Wolverhampton Wanderers will make their HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens debut in 2019. Photo: Wolverhampton Wanderers

English duo Wolverhampton Wanderers and Fulham will make their debuts at this year’s HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens, adding to the challenge faced by defending champions Newcastle United as May’s seven-a-side tournament at Hong Kong Football Club celebrates its 20th anniversary.

Six-time champions Aston Villa, two-time winners Leicester City, last year’s runners-up Rangers from Scotland as well as West Ham United and Brighton & Hove Albion will also lead the British challenge between 17-19 May.

“We love the idea of something fresh and having new teams come out. We can take our club for granted, but when I see the players walk through the entrance for the first time, they just can’t believe it,” said HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens Organising Committee Chairman Tony Bratsanos.

“This time we decided we’d go for Fulham as they’re a good footballing team with an excellent academy. Also Wolves, they’ve done well in the Premier League and they actually contacted us, we didn’t contact them, so that was great to invite them.”

Wolves, one of the founding members of the Football League in England in 1888, are owned by Chinese investment group Fosun International and returned to the English Premier League this season under manager Nuno Espírito Santo.

“We are delighted to be attending the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens for the first time in the club’s history and we are looking forward to competing at such a prestigious competition in its 20th anniversary year,” said Wolves under-23 coach Rob Edwards.

“The opportunity to take our young players to Hong Kong to compete against a very good standard of opposition in such a unique format of the game is something we are eagerly anticipating and a fantastic way to bring the curtain down on a successful season at Wolves.”

Fulham will make their debut at the 2019 HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens. Photo: Fulham FC

Fulham, who famously reached the inaugural Europa League Final in 2010, also returned to the top-flight in England this season after beating Villa in the Championship play-off final.

“We are really pleased to have been invited to the 2019 HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens for the first time. We know that the competition has a terrific reputation and we are looking forward to the challenge,” said Fulham academy director Huw Jennings.

Newcastle beat Rangers 1-0 in last year’s final thanks to Callum Roberts’ extra-time winner as the side from the North East of England claimed the title for a second time, having first lifted the Cup trophy in 2012.

Last year’s defeat represented a third runner-up finish for Rangers at the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens, having previously narrowly missed out on the title in both 2009 and 2010.

“We are delighted to be travelling back to the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens again. Visiting Hong Kong is a key highlight of the year on our academy calendar and the young players get so much from the event both from a football perspective, but also culturally by visiting one of the world’s must-see locations,” said Rangers head of academy Craig Mulholland.

“Two years ago, we reached the semi-final, last year we lost to Newcastle in the final so this year we hope to go one step further.”

Newscastle United beat Rangers in the 2018 HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens Cup final. Photo: Power Sport Images

Brighton made their HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens debut last year, beating defending champions Leicester to top their group with an unbeaten record only to see their run ended in the Cup quarter-finals by Italy’s Cagliari Calcio.

“We are delighted to be attending the tournament and feel we benefited greatly from the experience last year. We are sure this year will once again offer a different type of challenge and overall great experience,” said a Brighton spokesperson.

Villa are the most successful club in the history of the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens having won the tournament a record six times and been in the final on a further two occasions, and return this year for their 17th appearance at Hong Kong Football Club.

“This tournament remains an integral part of our development process as over the years many of our young players who have gone on to become Premier League winners, international players and first team squad members have benefitted from the Hong Kong Soccer Sevens experience,” said Villa academy manager Sean Kimberley.

Last year, Leicester made it all the way to the Cup semi-finals in defence of their 2017 title only to lose 4-3 after extra-time to eventual champions Newcastle.

“Leicester City have had some wonderful experiences at HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens over the years and last summer was no different. It’s a fantastically well-run competition with a format that both challenges the players and brings added excitement for the fans, who have always turned out to show their support,” said Ben Petty, who took charge of the Leicester team last year.

“We’re proud to have won the Main tournament on two previous occasions and I know that this year the team are be motivated to make that three. It’s a brilliant test for them as the competition gets tougher every year, but it’s one that we’re all looking forward to.”

Further information regarding the line-ups for the 16-team Main tournament and 10-team Masters tournament will be announced at a later date, as well as ticket information.

The draw for the 2019 HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens will take place on Wednesday 17 April, 2019.

Sudden death strike earns Newcastle United HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens title


Newcastle United won the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens title for the first time since 2012 on Sunday evening as the English Premier League club secured a 1-0 win in sudden-death extra-time over Glasgow Rangers.


Callum Roberts scored the winning goal midway through the four-minute four-on-four tie-breaker period after the final finished scoreless after two 10-minute halves as the team from St James’s Park claimed the club’s second HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens title.


“All the lads are buzzing,” said Newcastle captain Owen Bailey. “I couldn’t be prouder of them. I know we didn’t get as many wins as we would have liked and to win in the four-on-fours was really tough, but I’m really proud of the boys.


“We knew the ability all the boys had, we knew we had a good shape, (head coach) Ben Dawson set us up and drilled us. We didn’t expect to come here and get the trophy but we knew that we had a chance, so I’m really proud.


“It’s been tough. The humidity has been ridiculous, and especially in the four-on-fours, but we got the result and now we can have a rest and look forward to next season.”


Newcastle saw off last year’s winners Leicester City in the semi-finals having defeated Kashima Antlers on penalties in the quarter-finals while Rangers won against West Ham United in the last eight before beating Italy’s Cagliari Calcio to secure their place in the decider.


Both teams dealt with stifling conditions in front of a packed-out Hong Kong Football Club stadium in the final, but neither was able to find a way through to goal until Roberts claimed the sudden-death winner that secured the title.


Aston Villa, beaten finalists last year, won the Shield Final as they defeated West Ham United 2-1 while Australia’s Newcastle Jets claimed a 2-0 win over Yau Yee Select to emerge victorious from the Plate final in their debut appearance at the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens.


Discovery Bay won the Masters title for the first time with a 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest Mobsters in the final.


Citi All Stars had been aiming for a third straight title but fell in the last four to Discovery Bay while Wallsend Boys Club, last year’s beaten finalists, slipped up against Mobsters before Discovery Bay secured the title win.


“It’s a different game to 11-a-side football and we’ve got some talented players who have done it before and we’re very happy to have won,” said Discovery Bay head coach Tim Bredbury. “We improved with every game and we’re happy to have done that.


“Everyone’s contributed because we were down to the bare essentials for the final, but Forest were as well. At our age, though, we don’t need 10-minute finals!”


SCC Masters, meanwhile, handed PlayonPros a 4-3 defeat to win the Masters Plate final.

Champions Leicester City to face Aston Villa in final showdown repeat


Reigning champions Leicester City will meet last year’s beaten finalists Aston Villa in the quarter-finals of the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens on Sunday after both sides advanced to the knockout phase of the 2018 edition.


Leicester City, who won the 2017 decider 3-0 to claim a second title in five years, finished in second place in Group D after a 2-0 defeat by tournament newcomers Brighton & Hove Albion in Saturday’s penultimate game set up a repeat of last year’s final.


Aston Villa had won Group B earlier in the day, finishing five points ahead of second-placed Cagliari Calcio, and captain Callum O’Hare is in confident mood after a series of impressive performances by his team.


“I feel like we’ve done well,” he said. “We’ve won every game quite comfortably I think. In our last game (against Cagliari Calcio) we didn’t get the first goal and we were still able to win and that was a big thing.


“We’re doing well but we just need to carry that into tomorrow’s games. We’re feeling confident, we’ve got a good bunch of players and we know how to play now, so we just have to take that confidence into the next games.


“We’re looking to win this year. We lost in the final last year, so we want to go one step further.”


Kashima Antlers will take on Newcastle United in the last eight after the Japanese side impressed to top Group A ahead of West Ham United, who will face Group C winners Glasgow Rangers.


And Cagliari Calcio will play newcomers Brighton & Hove Albion in the quarter-final after the tournament debutants topped Group D.


“We’re really chuffed with this,” said Brighton captain James Tilley. “We started the tournament a bit slowly, but we haven’t played here before so we were just getting used to the competition.


“In our last game we found our rhythm, started to flow and it showed with the result. We’re really happy with that.


“We’ve been watching other teams to see what they were doing and what they were doing well. We’ve changed it around a bit and found what works for us and we’re doing well and we’re happy.”


In the Masters event, defending champions Citi All Stars won Group B with a perfect record of four victories to set up a semi-final clash with Discovery Bay, who claimed second spot in Group A.


The Hong Kong-based side finished behind Wallsend Boys Club, who took pole position in the group and will play Nottingham Forest Mobsters in the last four on Sunday morning.


Wallsend Boys Club lost in the final of last year’s competition to Citi All Stars, who are looking to claim a third straight title after wins in 2016 and 2017.

Champions Citi All Stars lead the way after first day’s play

Citi All Stars made the perfect start to the defence of their HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens Masters title on Friday evening as the two-time champions collected maximum points to hold a two-point point lead at the top of Group B at the end of the first day’s play.


A 3-0 win over Yau Yee League Masters in their opening game of the 2018 event at Hong Kong Football Club was followed by a 4-1 victory against HKFC Chairman’s Select to give the defending champions an impressive start to their campaign.


“It’s a better start than two years ago,” said Luis Boa Morte, who scored a fine solo effort in the win over HKFC Chairman’s Select. “Then it was the first game a defeat and then a win.


“Last year the first game was a win and the second game a defeat but this year we’ve won the first two games, so that’s a perfect start. That’s what we were looking for, it’s the best way to start.”


Citi All Stars lead Nottingham Forest Mobsters by two points after the English side defeated SCC Masters 1-0 to move into sole possession of second place and Boa Morte and company can secure their place in the knockout rounds if they win their next game, against SCC Masters, on Saturday.


“We only feel comfortable after we’ve won and we’ve been doing that and hopefully we can carry on like that,” said the former Arsenal and Fulham star.


“The first game on Saturday we must approach it right from the start and that will give us a chance to get into the next round. The most important game is always the next one, so that’s the one we play tomorrow at 16:45. We’ll take that seriously and make sure we get into the next round.”


Citi All Stars are attempting to become the first team since Lorenz All Stars in 2007 to complete a hat-trick of title wins, but Boa Morte insists he and his team mates are not looking that far ahead.


“We’re not thinking about that,” he said. “That’s the first thing people say to us is, that we were the winners and we have to defend the title and that we have to go for the third title.


“But we’re going game after game. We know that if we win our first game tomorrow we’re already qualified, so we won’t be thinking about the second game, we will just focus on the first win and make sure we win that and make sure we have a chance to be in the next round.”


Meanwhile, in Group A last year’s beaten finalists Wallsend Boys Club also have a 100 percent record after wins over HKFC Masters and KCC Veterans and their total of six points has them four points clear of their nearest challengers.


PlayonPros and Discovery Bay are locked together on two points after both drew their opening games – including a 0-0 draw against each other – with HKFC Masters and KCC Veterans holding one point each.

Leicester City confident ahead of HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens return


HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens champions Leicester City go into the defence of their title at Happy Valley this weekend confident of retaining the trophy they won 12 months ago at Hong Kong Football Club.


Leicester City kick off their challenge for a third title in six years when they take on Singapore Cricket Club on Saturday before facing newcomers Brighton & Hove Albion and HKFC Red Dragons in Group D of the Main Event.


Leicester City captain Darnell Johnson, who led his side to the title last year, believes he and his team mates can pull off a repeat performance at this year’s event.


“We’re all good to go,” said Johnson. “We’re confident going into this year’s competition and we’ll be trying to retain the title. We’ve been out there and so far it’s been hot, the other teams look better and it’s going to be a tough test.


“Looking at the players we know from back in England, I know it’s going to be tough. And from what I remember from last year, the Hong Kong teams were very good because they play this game regularly and are well equipped and know what to do. “


Fellow Premier League club Brighton & Hove Albion join Leicester City in Group D as they make their first-ever appearance in the competition and captain James Tilley is looking forward to the challenge his team will face over the weekend.


“As a team we’re all really excited,” said Tilley. “We’re really excited to get out there on Saturday and show what we can do.


“We are good technically as a team, good at passing, so we’ll play our own game but it’s going to be hard. Seven-a-side on a big pitch means there’s going to be a lot of running involved. And in this heat as well, it’s going to be different to England.


“We’re going to go out and do our best and give what we can. We’ll see what happens.”


Sixteen teams will face off for the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens title in the Main Event while 10 teams will also play in the Masters Events, contested by teams featuring players over 35 years of age.


Group A of the Main Event features West Ham United, Wellington Phoenix from New Zealand, Japan’s Kashima Antlers and a Yau Yee League Select, while Group B will be contested by Aston Villa, Italy’s Cagliari Calcio, Kitchee and HKFC Captain’s Select.


Newcastle United and Glasgow Rangers both return to play in Group C alongside Hong Kong Football Club and newcomers Newcastle Jets from Australia.


“We’re well prepared,” said Jets captain Solomon-John Moanhan-Vaiika. “It’s going to be different, but we expect to do our best. We didn’t come here to have a jolly. We’re here to compete to the best of our abilities.”


The 2018 HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens will also see the Citi All Stars return to defend the Masters title they have won in each of the last two years and the Masters Tournament will commence proceedings on the Friday evening before the Main Event starts at 9am on Saturday.

Wenger was Arsenal’s Che Guevara, says Hong Kong-bound Boa Morte


Luis Boa Morte compared his former manager Arsene Wenger to Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara due to the impact the Frenchman has had on football in England during more than two decades in the Premier League.


Wenger announced last week that he would be standing down at the end of the season from the post he has held for 22 years, and Boa Morte was quick to praise the man who took him to England as a 19-year-old in 1997.


“I’m surprised, and I’m sad about it,” said Boa Morte, who will visit Hong Kong next month as part of the Citi All Stars team at this year’s HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens.


“He was the one who brought me to England and because of him I’ve done my entire professional life in England. Because of him. For me, I feel really sad to see him leaving Arsenal. But life is like this, football is like this.


“He’s a revolutionary. He’s like Che Guevara because he created a revolution at Arsenal. He created unbelievable things and I don’t know who else will come along and do what he did, winning the league without a defeat. The impossible became possible. Let’s see who will come next.”


Boa Morte won the Premier League and FA Cup double in 1998 with Arsenal before leaving Highbury to enjoy spells with Fulham, West ham United, and Southampton.

He retired from the competitive game in 2013 but will return to Hong Kong next month for a fourth appearance at the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens as a member of the Citi All Stars, the team selected by the Professional Footballers’ Association who have won the Masters Event in each of the last two editions.


The 40-year-old is relishing the opportunity to defend their over-35s title once again.


“Me and all the guys are really pleased to return to a fabulous place like Hong Kong and to once more be taking part in such a massive tournament that has such great organisation,” he said. 


“Everyone enjoys it from the very first day to the very last. So a big thank you to Citibank, who support us and the PFA who keep us all together.


“We don’t see other tournaments like this in the world. From time to time we see some others, but they’re not like the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens. The rivalries, the tournament, the atmosphere itself, the hot weather, the good food and the good people around the organisation are fantastic.


“Everything about the tournament is enjoyable. So for myself and the Citi team, we are all proud to be there and happy to be together and to share the moments there and enjoy the tournament and the beautiful city of Hong Kong.”


The HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens will kick off on May 18 at Hong Kong Football Club and features 26 teams playing in two competitions.


Sixteen teams, including academy squads representing defending champions Leicester City, Aston Villa, Newcastle United, Brighton & Hove Albion and Rangers will contest the Main Event while a host of former stars will also fight it out for the Masters Event.


Tickets for the event are available at with free entry for all on Friday May 18 and free entry for children under 16 years old all weekend. Single day tickets cost HK$160 and weekend passes are HK$300.

Leicester City ready for HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens title defence

Reigning champions Leicester City will kick off the defence of their HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens title when they take on newcomers Brighton & Hove Albion in the opening round of fixtures at the 2018 event at Hong Kong Football Club next month.


Leicester, who defeated Aston Villa in last year’s final to win their second HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens crown, have also been drawn to face HKFA Red Dragons and Singapore Cricket Club in Group D of the annual event, which will be held this year from May 18-20.


Aston Villa, the tournament’s most successful club with six titles to their name, headline Group B and the team from England’s Midlands will face Cagliari Calcio from Italy, Hong Kong Premier League champions Kitchee and the HKFC Captain’s Select.


“This is the 19th edition of the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens and we are just as excited as ever about what lies ahead in this year’s competition,” said Tony Bratsanos, Chairman of the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens Organising Committee.


“We have a stellar line-up in both the Main Event and the Masters Tournament, with a record number of teams from professional clubs joining us from outside Hong Kong. 


“The standard of the competition promises to be exceptional and we’ll once again have the opportunity to see stars of the future and of the past strutting their stuff on the Hong Kong Football Club pitch.”


Sixteen teams in total will compete for the title in the Main Event, with 10 professional clubs from overseas – the largest contingent ever – travelling to Hong Kong for the competition.


Group A will feature West Ham United, Wellington Phoenix, Kashima Antlers and Yau Yee League Select and the opening phase of the competition is rounded out with Newcastle United, Rangers, Newcastle Jets from Australia and Hong Kong Football Club meeting in Group C.


The 2018 HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens will also see the Citi All Stars return to defend the Masters title they have won in each of the last two years, with the team drawn to meet Nottingham Forest Mobsters, SCC Masters, HKFC Chairman’s Select and Yau Yee League Masters in Group B.


Citi All Stars, who defeated Wallsend Boys Club in last year’s final, are aiming to become the first team to win three titles in a row since 2007, when Lorenz All Stars completed their hat trick of Masters titles.


The Masters Tournament will commence proceedings at Sports Road, with games being played on the Friday evening before the Main Event kicks off at 9am on Saturday. Matches run throughout Saturday and Sunday.

Main Event

Group A: West Ham United, Wellington Phoenix, Kashima Antlers, Yau Yee League Select

Group B: Aston Villa, Cagliari Calcio, Kitchee, HKFC Captain’s Select

Group C: Newcastle United, Rangers, Newcastle Jets, Hong Kong Football Club

Group D: Leicester City, Brighton & Hove Albion, HKFA Red Dragons, Singapore Cricket Club


Masters Event

Group A: playonPROS, Wallsend Boys Club, KCC Veterans, HKFC Masters, Discovery Bay

Group B: Citi All Stars, Nottingham Forest Mobsters, SCC Masters, HKFC Chairman’s Select, Yau Yee League Masters

Rangers and Cagliari sign up for HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens


Scottish giants Rangers and Italian Serie A side Cagliari Calcio will both return to the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens for this year’s event when it is held at Hong Kong Football Club from May 18-20, along with tournament newcomers Newcastle Jets from Australia.


Rangers, runners-up in 2009 and 2010, and Cagliari both featured in last year’s event and return to Happy Valley looking to build on their performances 12 months ago while Newcastle Jets will make their first-ever appearance at the three-day event.


The trio join eight-time Japanese champions Kashima Antlers as well as A-League side Wellington Phoenix and six Hong Kong-based sides in the 16-team Main Event.


“This is the first time ever that we will see 10 professional clubs from overseas represented at the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens,” says Tournament Director Chris Plowman.


“It will be good to see Rangers, Cagliari Calcio, Kashima Antlers and Wellington Phoenix all return and, as we continue to strive to attract clubs from across the world, this year will also see two Newcastles from opposite sides of the globe traveling to Sports Road.


“As well as welcoming back Newcastle United from the North East of England we will also see first timers, Newcastle Jets from north of Sydney, Australia.”


Defending champions Leicester City, former winners Aston Villa as well as Newcastle United and newcomers Brighton & Hove Albion will fly the flag for English football in this year’s tournament.


Hong Kong football will have a strong representation at the tournament, with Hong Kong Premier League champions Kitchee fielding a team yet again while the Hong Kong Football Association will send the HKFA Red Dragons


And hosts Hong Kong Football Club will also have two representatives taking part, HKFC and HKFC Captain’s Select and they will be joined in the draw by the Yau Yee League Select and a team from the Singapore Cricket Club.


The draw for this year’s tournament will be held at Hong Kong Football Club on April 17 and the event will kick off with the Masters Event on May 18 before the Main Event commences on May 19, running through until May 20.


The 2018 HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens will be the 19th edition of the event, with 16 teams featuring some of the finest young talent from around the world due to participate in the main event. 


Ten teams will also compete in the Masters tournament, which has in the past attracted former stars such as ex-Liverpool and Ajax Amsterdam playmaker Jari Litmanen, former England and Nottingham Forest defender Des Walker as well as ex-England goalkeeper David James.