Young West Ham squad focused on attacking talents

The young West Ham United squad line up ahead of this week’s HKFC Citibank Soccer Sevens.

The young West Ham United squad line up ahead of this week’s HKFC Citibank Soccer Sevens.

May 28, 2015: Mark Phillips believes his young West Ham side might have “too many” attacking players at this week’s HKFC Citibank Soccer Sevens, which marks the club’s first appearance at Hong Kong Football Club since 2012.


The Hammers won the third-tier Plate under Ian Hendon three years ago, having reached the Cup semi-finals in 2010.


With West Ham recently qualifying for the Europa League, Phillips has brought out a teenage squad for the Soccer Sevens, but one with plenty of attacking talent, including 18-year-old strikers Jordan Brown and Djair Parfitt-Williams.


“If I’m honest, we’re too attacking. We’re overbalanced with attackers,” Phillips laughed. “I’ll be interested to watch the Masters Tournament on Friday night to have a look at the way the other teams set up and the style.


“We are virgins at this style, but football’s football. Whether you’re playing five-a-side, seven-a-side or 11-a-side, if you’ve got the football and the other team haven’t, that’s what the game’s about.”


Manchester City won last year’s Cup with an U-18 squad and Phillips isn’t concerned that his players are younger than those brought out by fellow Premier League clubs Aston Villa, Newcastle United, Leicester City and Stoke City, as well as Spanish giants Atletico Madrid.


“The age of our players doesn’t concern us. We’ve come out with a young squad because of the Europa League and it’s a good chance for these guys to show what they can do,” Phillips said.


“One of this team, Reece Burke, who’s not here, is now playing in the first team. Once you’re professional, which these players are aiming to be this season and next season, you’re playing against men anyway.”


Mark Phillips (third left) coaches West Ham in 31°C ahead of this week’s HKFC Citibank Soccer Sevens.

Mark Phillips (third left) coaches West Ham in 31°C ahead of this week’s HKFC Citibank Soccer Sevens.

West Ham trained in temperatures of 31 degrees Celsius on Thursday, but Phillips said he had no sympathy for players complaining about Hong Kong’s hot, humid conditions.


“I’ve pointed out to them that so many times in January and February they’re moaning about how cold it is,” he said. “A lot of it is about mindset. If you’re got the mindset to go and enjoy it, you won’t let the weather affect you. After the game, you might feel a little drained, but your adrenaline will get you through it. These tournaments help us to learn about the players and how much mental toughness they’ve got.”


West Ham play Hong Kong champions Kitchee, Chinese Super League giants Shanghai SIPG and hosts HKFC Captain’s Select in Group B, which will kick off on Saturday morning.


Group C, which will also start on Saturday morning, features five-time winners Aston Villa, managed by club legend Gordon Cowans, Wellington Phoenix, HKFA U-18 and Hong Kong Football Club.


Groups A and D will kick off on Saturday afternoon. Peter Beardsley’s Newcastle United and Leicester City, the 2012 and 2013 champions respectively, headline Group A, which includes BC Rangers of the Hong Kong Premier League and Singapore Cricket Club.


High-profile debutants Stoke City and Atletico Madrid are the favourites to progress into the Cup quarter-finals from Group D, with the two pro clubs facing HKFA U-20 and Yau Yee League Select on Saturday.


The Soccer Sevens will kick off at 6.00pm on Friday (May 29) with group games from the 10-team Masters Tournament for over-35 players.


The group stage of the Main Tournament and the remaining Masters group games will be held on Saturday. All knockout matches are held on Sunday.


Entry is free on the Friday evening, while tickets for the weekend are priced at HK$160 per day or HK$300 for a two-day pass and are available through Cityline (


Main Tournament:

Group A: Newcastle United (ENG), Leicester City (ENG), BC Rangers (HKG), Singapore Cricket Club (SIN)

Group B: West Ham United (ENG), Kitchee (HKG), Shanghai SIPG (CHN), HKFC Captain’s Select (HKG)

Group C: Aston Villa (ENG), Wellington Phoenix (NZL), HKFA U-18 (HKG), Hong Kong Football Club (HKG)

Group D: Stoke City (ENG), Atletico Madrid (SPA), HKFA U-20 (HKG), Yau Yee League Select (HKG)


Masters Tournament:

Group A: Wallsend Boys Club (ENG), USRC – BTS (HKG), Kitchee All Stars (HKG), KCC Veterans (HKG), HKFC Veterans (HKG)

Group B: Citibank All Stars (INT), Nottingham Forest Mobsters (ENG), SCC Tigers (SIN), Discovery Bay (HKG), HKFC Chairman’s Select (HKG)