Hong Kong Soccer Sevens: quarter-finals set in sweltering heat as Aston Villa earn chance for Leicester revenge
Temperatures soar on a scorching Saturday at Hong Kong Football Club with repeat of 2017 final booked for last eight
It may have been a scorcher at Hong Kong Football Club on Saturday but Aston Villa were coolness personified as they swept through their group and set up a shot at redemption against reigning champions Leicester in the quarter-finals of the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens.
Villa finished five points ahead of Italian side Cagliari Calcio to top group B, and it’ll be seconds out round two as they set up a rematch in the last eight with the team who thrashed them 3-0 in the 2017 final.
Leicester could only manage to finish second in their group in soaring temperatures that reached 32 degrees Celsius, following a 2-0 defeat by tournament debutants Brighton.
“I feel like we’ve done well,” said Villa captain Callum O’Hare. “We’ve won every game quite comfortably I think. In our last game [against Cagliari Calcio] we didn’t get the first goal and we were still able to win and that was a big thing.
“We’re doing well but we just need to carry that into tomorrow’s games. We’re feeling confident, we’ve got a good bunch of players and we know how to play now, so we just have to take that confidence into the next games.
“We’re looking to win this year. We lost in the final last year, so we want to go one step further.”
Brighton’s reward for topping group D is a last-eight showdown against Cagliari, with the English Premier League club’s academy side having no trouble adapting to the tournament on their first appearance.
“We’re really chuffed with this,” said Brighton captain James Tilley. “We started the tournament a bit slowly, but we haven’t played here before so we were just getting used to the competition.
“In our last game we found our rhythm, started to flow and it showed with the result. We’re really happy with that.
“We’ve been watching other teams to see what they were doing and what they were doing well. We’ve changed it around a bit and found what works for us and we’re doing well and we’re happy.”
Sunday’s other quarter-final ties will see group D winners Kashima Antlers face Newcastle, while West Ham will take on Rangers after the Scottish club’s academy side finished on top of group C.
Defending Masters champions Citi All Stars, who are seeking a third straight title here, made it a clean sweep with four wins in group B to secure a semi-final clash against group A runners-up Discovery Bay.
The other Masters semi-final sees Wallsend Boys Club play Nottingham Forest Mobsters on Sunday morning.
Playonpros will contest the Masters Plate final with SCC Masters around 1pm, before the Main Plate and Mian Shield semi-finals get underway.