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.