Stars of the future and Champions League winners set to shine at Hong Kong Football Club Citi Soccer Sevens
Former internationals confirmed for standout weekend on city’s football calendar when it returns from May 18-20
The draw for the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens has been made at Hong Kong Football Club and promises the same mix of promising professionals dreaming of making it big playing in the main tournament and the star names of the past pulling on their boots again for the over-35s masters competition.
The 19th year of the annual tournament takes place at Hong Kong Football Club from May 18-20 and 16 teams from around the world comprise the open age main draw.
Ten of those are professional clubs are from Europe and Asia, with the Europeans set to send youth teams.
Current stars such as Jack Grealish, Gary Cahill and Marc Albrighton all cut their teeth in Hong Kong.
Last year’s Sevens champions Leicester City join record six-time winners and 2017 runners-up Aston Villa among five English clubs rounded out by Premier League sides Newcastle United, West Ham United and debutants Brighton and Hove Albion.
This year’s other debutants are Australian A-League side Newcastle Jets, while fellow A-Leaguers Wellington Phoenix and Japanese J-League side Kashima Antlers return along with Scottish Premier League giants Glasgow Rangers and Serie A side Cagliari.
The 16-team main draw features two teams from HKFC, the HKFA Red Dragons, which will largely be made of the under-20 representative side coached by Kevin Kwok, and Hong Kong Premier League champions and 2011 soccer sevens winners Kitchee. There is also a select sevens side from the Yau Yee League and a team from Singapore Cricket Club.
HKFA head of development Paul Woodland said that the tournament “holds a special place on the Hong Kong football calendar” and offers “an amazing opportunity for our players to test themselves against the best footballers from the world”. He added that it is also an opportunity for the coaches to test themselves.
— HK Soccer Sevens (@hksoccer7s) 9 March 2018
Woodland also hailed the crowds who attend in their thousands: “I’m sure this year will be no exception.”
The masters section, which has been won for the last two years by Citi All Stars, features former international footballers. Confirmed names for this year include former England internationals David James, Joleon Lescott, Michael Gray, Wes Brown, Lee Hendrie and Carlton Palmer for the Playon Pros, while Wallsend Boys Club will bring ex-Premier League star Keith Gillespie.
The format borrows from the rugby sevens with seven minute halves contested between teams of seven on an almost full-sized pitch.
— Michael Bridges (@MickyBridges8) 30 May 2017
Another big name from the past comes in Liverpool and Ireland midfielder Jason McAteer, who is the speaker at the sportsman’s dinner that kicks off the event on the Thursday before the masters gets underway on the Friday.
Group A – West Ham United, Wellington Phoenix, Kashima Antlers, Yau Yee League Select
Group B – Aston Villa, Cagliari, Kitchee, HKFC Captain’s Select
Group C – Newcastle United, Glasgow Rangers, Newcastle Jets, Hong Kong Football Club
Group D – Leicester City, Brighton & Hove Albion, HKFA Red Dragons, Singapore Cricket Club
Group A – PlayonPROS, Wallsend Boys Club, KCC Veterans, HKFC Masters, Discovery Bay
Group B – Citi All Stars, Nottingham Forest Mobsters, SCC Masters, HKFC Chairman’s Select, Yau Yee League Masters