Atletico Madrid will defend title at Hong Kong Soccer Sevens
Last year’s winning debutants confirmed for return
Atletico Madrid will be back to defend their title at the HKFC Citibank Soccer Sevens, while Japan will be represented for the first time since 2008 by Kashima Antlers.
Atletico came back from two goals down to beat England’s West Ham United 3-2 after extra-time in the 2015 final of the popular summer tournament.
The La Liga side boasted the tournament’s seven-goal top scorer Samuel Saiz last year, and with the club’s famed academy renowned for producing the likes of David De Gea and Fernando Torres, Atletico are again expected to challenge later this year.
“We always want to holders to come back and defend their title the following year. They are second in La Liga and are a high-profile team with a high-profile manager,” organising committee chairman Tony Bratsanos said in a statement.
“Last year they were a breath of fresh air because we have had lots of English Premier League teams over the years, but never anyone from La Liga. They also didn’t know what to expect when they arrived so to have them return is great.”
Japan’s Kashima are set to make their first appearance since 2004 when the 17th edition of the event returns to Hong Kong Football Club from May 20-22.
“Because the J.League starts around this time of year, it’s always difficult to get a Japanese presence. But Kashima played in 2004 and Urawa Red Diamonds won it in 2005 and 2006,” added Bratsanos.
“Kashima got to the final when they last played in the tournament, losing to an Aston Villa side that featured Gabby Agbonlahor, so it’s great to have them back.”
New Zealand’s Wellington Phoenix will also return following a successful debut last year having been edged out by the Spanish side 1-0 after extra-time in the semi-finals last year.
The remaining sides in this year’s 16-team Main Tournament and teams competing in the over-35 Masters Tournament will be confirmed soon.