Stage set for Masters Tournament

USRC - BTS vs Wallsend Boys Club during their Master Cup Final match as part of day three of the HKFC Citibank Soccer Sevens 2015 on May 31, 2015 at the Hong Kong Football Club in Hong Kong, China. Photo by Xaume Olleros / Power Sport Images

USRC – BTS vs Wallsend Boys Club during their Master Cup Final match as part of day three of the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens 2015 on May 31, 2015 at the Hong Kong Football Club in Hong Kong, China. Photo by Xaume Olleros / Power Sport Images

Defending champions USRC will go head-to-head with two-time winners Ajax All Stars, while Citi All Stars will face off against 2015 runners-up Wallsend Boys Club as the Masters Tournament at the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens promises to once again offer up some thrilling action.

Kowloon side USRC became the first Hong Kong team to win the Masters competition since 2011 when they secured their inaugural tournament victory last year after seeing off English club Wallsend 2-1 in the final thanks to goals from Brazilian duo Daniel Lins Cortes and Paolo Enrique.

But lining up in Group A alongside the holders, and returning after a one-year hiatus, are Ajax All Stars, who dealt USRC their last defeat when they ran out 1-0 victors after extra-time in the 2014 final.

The instantly recognisable Dutch outfit have competed in the Masters event on three occasions and have never failed to make the final, having won on their debut in 2012 and then again two years later.

They were also runners-up in 2013, when Rangers All Stars handed them their first and only defeat at the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens in the final.

Ajax legends Jari Litmanen and Aron Winter have both starred for Ajax in the past, but former Denmark international Kenneth Perez has stolen the limelight by amassing an incredible 28 goals in three editions of the seven-a-side tournament.

USRC and Ajax will be joined by KCC Veterans and HKFC Chairman’s Select, last year’s Plate winners and runners-up respectively, as well as Discovery Bay.


Group A – Ajax All Stars (Netherlands), USRC (Hong Kong), HKFC Chairman’s Select (Hong Kong), KCC Veterans (Hong Kong), Discovery Bay (Hong Kong)

Group B – Citi All Stars (England), Wallsend Boys Club (England), HKFC Veteran’s (Hong Kong), Singapore Cricket Club Tigers (Singapore), Yau Yee League Masters (Hong Kong)


A strong-looking Group B, meanwhile, sees Wallsend and Citi All Stars joined by HKFC Veterans, Singapore Cricket Club Tigers and Yau Yee League Masters.

The reputable Wallsend boasts a proud history having helped the likes of Peter Beardsley, Alan Shearer, Michael Carrick and Steve Bruce develop during their early years before going on to forge hugely successful careers for club and country.

Wallsend have become one of the star attractions at the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens in recent years and are returning for a third successive time following their runners-up finish in 2015.

“Citi will bring a strong team, but I think we’re one of the favourites now,” said former Leeds United and Sunderland player Michael Bridges, who scored in the final defeat to USRC last year.

“We’re all passionate as players and want to go one better this year so the next step is to win the trophy. To get to the final last year was great and it was a special moment to score, but the whole experience was just superb.

“We have a great history of players who have gone on to become professionals, but Wallsend Boys Club is not a professional club, so to have an amateur club put ourselves on the map like that was a huge bonus.

“Being able to see the professional teams bring their youngsters is one of the things I took back from the tournament. I’m excited to return to Hong Kong as everyone there is very hospitable so I put it in my diary every year.”

Citi All Stars, meanwhile, will be aiming to win their first Masters Cup having so far failed to lift the title despite boasting a number of renowned ex-players.

Last year the team featured former Premier League stars Frank Sinclair and Marcus Gayle, while Marlon Harewood ended as the tournament’s four-goal top scorer.

The English Professional Football Association’s representatives remain among the major draws at the annual seven-a-side event, but their best performance to date remains a runners-up finish in 2011, when they lost the final 4-3 after extra-time to Eastern Salon Top Class.

Of the teams competing for the Masters Cup, only USRC and Ajax have previously been crowned champions.

The competition continues to be among the highlights of the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens weekend and consistently attracts star clubs and names.

German FIFA World Cup winners Jurgen Klinsmann, Pierre Littbarski and Uwe Bein, as well as European Cup winner Andreas Moller, all appeared for the Lorenz All Stars in the early years of the Masters competition.

Andy Cole, Des Walker, John Barnes and Matthew Le Tissier, meanwhile, are among the former Premier League greats to have starred over the years in what has always been a mouthwatering event.