HKFA Red Dragons to replace South Korea’s FC Seoul at HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens

Stoke City vs HKFA U-21 during the Main tournament of the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens on 22 May 2016 in the Hong Kong Footbal Club, Hong Kong, China. Photo by Li Man Yuen / Power Sport Images

HKFA Red Dragons will replace South Korea’s FC Seoul in Group A of the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens after the K-League side were forced to withdraw due to domestic commitments.

FC Seoul became the first-ever South Korean team to appear at the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens last year, and they put in a highly impressive performance by reaching the semi-finals before a narrow 1-0 defeat to eventual runners-up West Ham United.

But it will be HKFA Red Dragons, a second representative team from the Hong Kong Football Association, who will now take on Italian newcomers Cagliari Calcio, Scotland’s Rangers and hosts Hong Kong Football in Group A of next month’s tournament.

“I’m excited to announce a late call up for HKFA Red Dragons to the 2017 HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens,” said HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens Tournament Director Chris Plowman.

“Sadly, due to a domestic fixture clash FC Seoul have been forced to withdraw. The management and squad are extremely disappointed and have pledged to return to the Sevens next year, but did explain to us that a K-League end of season fixture had to take priority.

FC Seoul in 2016. Photo by Li Man Yuen / Power Sport Images

“However this has enabled us to give a late call up to a representative side from the HKFA who had been very keen to participate and were waiting on the sidelines.”

A HKFA Red Dragons side previously competed at the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens in 2012 and 2013 as an U-21 squad, although this year the side will be made up of players from the U-23 ranks.

In 2013, the HKFA Red Dragons edged out the Yau Yee League Select on penalties in the Plate quarter-finals before losing on penalties to eventual champions BC Rangers in the semi-finals.

“Our plan was to join the tournament with young professional players from the first team of FC Seoul. However, the FIFA U-20 World Cup will take place in South Korea at the same time as the tournament, as well as the reserve league,” said an FC Seoul statement.

“We changed our plan to send a youth team to the tournament, but the last league match of the season will take place on May 27 and the K-League did not approve our request to change the date of the match as all the matches on the final day of the season must take place at the same time.”