Chance for minnows to claim trophy
By Jonathan Powell
The Hong Kong 08 team will clash with Kitchee in the 2006 Nike Football Fives Championship finals at Macpherson Playground, Mongkok, this weekend.
The draw paired up the two First Division teams in the men's Super category semi-finals.
The young 08 side, many of whom hope to represent the SAR at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, struggled in the First Division this season.
The team lost 13 of their 14 league fixtures, and picked up just one point, with a surprise 1-1 draw against Kitchee.
But raw skills have more impact in five-a-side football and the Nike competition provides a genuine chance for the 08 team to win some silverware.
'It's a good draw for us, and we will be aiming to win the tournament,' said 08 captain, Wong Shun-him.
'Five-a-side football is all about fitness and skills. We are confident we can do well. We are a young side, and playing against the top teams is difficult for us. All competitions we play in are about gaining experience, but this tournament gives us a chance to win something.'
Four teams have qualified for the Super category finals.
Citizen and Pang Ma Wanderers clash in the other semi-final.
The finals are the culmination of a competition which featured 360 teams in the qualifying rounds.
Organised by the Hong Kong Football Association and funded by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and Nike Hong Kong, the event gives more than 3,500 recreational players an opportunity to show off their five-a-side skills.
The three preliminary rounds were held in Mongkok, Kwai Chung and Cheung Sha Wan.
As well as the Super category, there are four age-group sections, an Open group, and a women's tournament.
In the under-18 category, featuring eight teams, Arsenal Soccer Schools are expected to do well. They have been drawn against Nam Fung B in the quarter-finals.
Also in under-18s, Chun Fung Soccer Association take on Chi Youth Group, Sunny Football Team play Tin Luen, while Fu Ching were drawn against Soccer K.
Many school students will represent their clubs in the women's competition. Kitchee B meet Ka Shan, Wanderers B play Wanderers A, Yu Tak To face Pukka, and Kitchee A clash with Sha Tin Sports Club.