Hong Kong, 23 May 2014 – Former Netherlands striker Michael Mols scored a late winner as Rangers Legends kicked off the defence of their Masters title at the HKFC Citibank Soccer Sevens with a hard-fought 1-0 win over local side Kowloon Cricket Club.
KCC, boosted by Scottish guest stars Pat Nevin and James Grady, came close to scoring in the opening minute, but Andy Goram pulled off a crucial save.
Midfielder Alex Rae played with Goram and Scott Nisbet in the Rangers sides that won the Masters in 2008 and last year, and paid tribute to the man between the sticks.
“We started quite slow and gave them an opportunity, but we’ve come to see that from Andy Goram over the years. He’s been brilliant and just as important as the people scoring the goals. From there we started to play well,” said Rae, who scored the winner against Aegon Ajax All Stars in last year’s final.
“Michael’s prolific in front of goal. He had one or two chances in the first half, but the keeper pulled off some good saves. We created enough chances and maybe we could have had one or two penalties, but it’s three points.
“We always find it difficult in the first game because everyone’s very cagey. It’s just a case of being patient and waiting for the opportunity when it arises. We’re pleased because last year we had a poor start and that puts pressure on you for the next couple of games.”
Rangers Legends lead Group A, after debutants Wallsend Boys Club drew 1-1 with local club USRC (United Services Recreation Club).
Michael Bridges, the former Leeds and Sunderland striker, scored a second-half penalty on his Soccer Sevens debut to equalise for Wallsend, after Fabio Alcantara – a Hong Kong First Division striker and one of several Brazilian guest stars in the USRC side – scored in the first half.
“It was nice to get a goal,” Bridges said. “I didn’t realise it was so tough, though! It’s a big pitch and there are only seven of us out there. It’s a great concept and I loved it, but I found it very tiring, so who knows how some of the older boys manage. I really enjoyed it and it was good to get a goal.
Aegon Ajax All Stars, the 2012 champions, beat hosts HKFC Veterans 2-0 in Group B with goals by Gerald Sibon and Kenneth Perez, Player of the Tournament for the past two years.
Also in Group B, 2011 champions Eastern Salon Original of Hong Kong opened the tournament with a comfortable 2-0 win over HKFC Chairman’s Select, the hosts’ second-string side in the Masters.
Jason Lee and David Johnson, with a penalty, scored as Nottingham Forest Mobsters beat 2010 champions KFC Tokyo 2-1. The English club, with former England star Des Walker in defence, lead Group C after group favourites Citibank All Stars were held to a scoreless draw by SCC Tigers from Singapore.
Walker said: “It’s nice to get off with a win, as I think it puts everyone under pressure if you lose or draw the first game. It was good, but I think we’ve got more to come and there are good teams out there, so we’ve got to raise our game.
“The Citibank All Stars look a strong team, so it’s going to be a difficult group to get out of. I think we’ve got a bit more legs than last year, so hopefully we can make more of an inroad this year.”
All the Main group matches and the remaining Masters group games are held on Saturday (9.00am-8.15pm), while the knockout rounds take place on Sunday (8.00am-7.30pm).
Tickets for the weekend are HK$160 per day or HK$300 for a two-day pass. Citibank has title sponsored the event since 2011 and other sponsors this year include British Airways, Nike, Aegon, The Excelsior, Tsingtao and Boase Cohen & Collins.
Group A: Newcastle United (ENG), Guangzhou Evergrande (CHN), HKFA U-23 (HKG), Hong Kong Football Club (HKG)
Group B: Chelsea (ENG), Sunderland (ENG), Kitchee (HKG), HKFC Captain’s Select (HKG)
Group C: Manchester City (ENG), Rangers (SCO), BC Rangers (HKG), Singapore Cricket Club (SIN)
Group D: Leicester City (ENG), Aston Villa (ENG), HKFA U-21 (HKG), Yau Yee League Select (HKG)
Group A: Rangers Legends (SCO), Wallsend Boys Club (ENG), USRC (HKG), Kowloon Cricket Club (HKG)
Group B: Aegon Ajax All Stars (NED), Eastern Salon Original (HKG), HKFC Chairman’s Select (HKG), HKFC Veterans (HKG)
Group C: Citibank All Stars (ENG), Nottingham Forest Mobsters (ENG), KFC Tokyo (JPN), SCC Tigers (SIN)