Hong Kong Soccer Sevens
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Joe Powell from West Ham United (second right) strikes the ball against Yau Yee League Masters at the HKFC CITI Soccer Sevens. Photo: Jonathan Wong

Leicester City and Aston Villa lead the way at Hong Kong Soccer Sevens

Unbeaten English clubs claim top spots in their respective groups ahead of Sunday’s quarter-finals as Playon Pros stutter in Masters section of tournament

The opening day of the main competition at the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens ended with two familiar names moving ominously into prime position to launch another assault on the title as Aston Villa and Leicester City both claimed top spots in their respective groups.

Each unbeaten on a searing hot Saturday, Leicester topped their group without conceding a single goal, and Villa claimed seven points from a possible nine to ensure they also moved into the quarter-finals of the main draw as group winners.

Joining them in the last eight are Glasgow Rangers, Cagliari, Hong Kong Football Club Captain’s Select, Hong Kong Football Association under-23s, Marseille and West Ham.

Leicester, the 2013 champions, were in imperious form in front of a packed Sport Road crowd and will face West Ham in the last eight on Sunday after comfortably disposing of HKFC Captain’s Select, Kashima Antlers and Wellington Phoenix.

Cagliari Calcio’s Mattia Muroni (right) shoots against HKFA Red Dragons at the HKFC CITI Soccer Sevens. Photo: Jonathan Wong

“It’s been a good day. The lads were terrific,” said Leicester youth team coach Ben Petty. “We started well and asked them for a progression in each game. We have lads who’ve never played this [format] before, but I think everyone has seen that we’ve grown with every game.

“We have an opportunity to have a rest now and come back fresh for tomorrow.”

Defending champions Aston Villa’s only hiccup on an otherwise solid day was a 2-2 draw against HKFA U23s.

Aston Villa captain Harry McKirdy was again in sparkling form, grabbing three goals for the six-time Hong Kong titlists, who face a last-eight clash against Italian side Cagliari.

Olympique de Marseille’s Ibrahima Guirassy (left) on the ball at the HKFC CITI Soccer Sevens. Photo: Jonathan Wong

“I thought we started the tournament well,” said McKirdy, who is participating in his fourth Hong Kong Soccer Sevens and was leading goalscorer last year.

“The second game was a shame – a bit of inexperience, a bit of naivety. It was disappointing to concede late on.

“We came out and we knew we had to win the next game. Leverkusen were a strong team, but we were outstanding. I don’t think they had one shot on target. We dominated them and made a statement for tomorrow.”

Elsewhere in the quarter-finals, Rangers will face HKFA U23s, while Marseille will meet HKFC Captain’s Select.

Rangers goalkeeper Kieran Wright clutches the ball from HKFA Red Dragons’ Wong Chun-hin. Photo: Jonathan Wong

In the Masters section of the tournament, local outfit Yau Yee League Masters were the surprise package as they secured a vital win over the HKFA Chairman’s Select to book their place in the final four.

They will now face defending champions Citi All Stars in Sunday’s semi-final.

HKFC Masters will meet Wallsend Boys Club in the other last-four match.

Playon Pros were the biggest casualties on Saturday. The Hong Kong debutants, made up of ex-professionals and former internationals, fell to a surprise defeat against Wallsend, which means they will contest the secondary Plate final on Sunday.

PlayonPros’ Regi Blinker in action. Photo: Jonathan Wong
This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Leicester and Villa leading the way at Sevens