Five years ago, Spanish striker Roberto Losada and Hong Kong midfielder Lo Kwan Yee were part of the Kitchee side that memorably claimed the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens Cup following a 1-0 win over Scottish heavyweights Celtic in the 2011 final.
In doing so, The Blues became just the second Hong Kong team to lift the tournament’s main title after Instant Dict did so at the 2000 edition.
And, while neither will take to the field in the 2016 edition with Losada retired from playing and Kitchee captain Lo, 31, participating in the Hong Kong Premier League Season Play-Off, the 39-year-old Spaniard will be involved at this years’ HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens as a member of the Kitchee coaching staff.
Let’s go back to 2011, it was a very special year for you particularly, Roberto.
Losada: Yes, it was a beautiful year for me. The truth is that from the moment I landed in Hong Kong in 2010, everything has been brilliant. We won games right from the start of the 2010/2011 season and by the end of it we were crowned Hong Kong champions for the first time in 47 years which was truly euphoric, something beautiful.
I was also very honoured to be named Hong Kong Footballer of the Year, Hong Kong Most Popular Player, and Most Valuable Player and made the tournament’s Best Eleven in 2011. And then we went on to win the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens for the first time, which was amazing.
What do you think was the key factor that made Kitchee’s championship in 2011?
Lo: I think it was the tactics we adopted. We were being very patient because our speed and energy were inferior when compared with foreign clubs. So it was really important for us to do more passing, instead of trying to match our opponents for pace.
How has the side been preparing for the 2016 HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens?
Losada: The younger members of the squad and academy players are familiar with the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens format; we know the rules and we know how to play. We’re going to give the squad as many tips as we can and see if they’re capable of following through and maybe spring a surprise on some people in the tournament.
Lo: There will be many fresh players such as Ngan Cheuk Pan and Cheng Chin Lung playing the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens this year. It is a really good opportunity for them to enrich themselves with more experiences, especially when they are playing against foreign clubs.
What about the challenges for the upcoming tournament?
Losada: Well, we know it is not easy at all, every year the teams that come are stronger, with better players. We are going to try to be at our best and we don’t discard the possibility of winning. But in the meanwhile, we’ll be giving new and up-and-coming players the chance to play and make a name for themselves. The challenge will be to go step-by-step, win game by game, and try to reach as far as we can – and reach the final if we can!