“The best of England, the best of Asia, the best of China and the best of Hong Kong,” will be in Hong Kong next month according to organizers of the HKFC Citibank Soccer Sevens 2014.
Although still over a month away, the prestigious Hong Kong hosted international event is already coming into the spotlight. As usual, it will have high-level representation with seven English Premier Clubs putting in development squad teams with players all hoping to progress to the senior squads and become star players of the future.
A total 28 teams, including Main and Masters’ competitions, will compete in the 3-day tournament at the Hong Kong Football Club in late May.
While Citibank has sponsored the competition since 2011, the competition has attracted other high end sponsors this year including British Airways, Nike, Ageon and The Excelsior, reaffirming that this competition is highly regarded internationally.
Leicester City, who beat Newcastle United 2-nil in last year’s Main competition Cup Final, will be defending their title, but the competition will be tough with teams from top clubs Chelsea, Manchester City, Aston Villa, Newcastle United, Sunderland and the famous Scottish club Rangers all eager to come out on top.
Academy teams from these illustrious clubs will be joined by an Evergrande academy team from Guangzhou as the eighth seeded team. The senior Evergrande team has won the Chinese Super League for the last three years and are recent winners of the AFC Asia Champions League.
English Premier League leaders, Chelsea last competed two years ago, but all of the other British clubs took part in last year’s competition showing their approval of the suitability of the competition as a competitive event for their academy teams.
Other teams included in the main draw are Kitchee, undefeated 2013-14 HKFA First Division Champions, together with three other HKFA professional teams—HKFA Under 21 and Under 23 teams and a HKFA Qualifier Team yet to be decided. Non-professional clubs also included in the main draw are Hong Kong Football Club, HKFC Captain’s Select, Singapore Cricket Club and Yau Yee League Select.
There will be a total of 16 teams in the Main competition, initially split into four groups of four for the round robin matches. The top two teams from each group will move to the Main Cup Quarter Finals, with the winners progressing and the losers entering the Shield Semi-finals, while the bottom two teams from the group stage will compete for the Plate.
The Masters’ competition, as usual, will include many well-known footballers including such ex-English Internationals as Peter Beardsley and Des Walker, who both earned 59 caps for England.
Rangers Legends, last year’s Masters Cup winners, will defend their title again this year against Citi Bank All Stars and Aegon Ajax All Stars, along with nine other teams: Nottingham Forest Mobsters, Wallsend Boys Club, Eastern Salon, HKFC Veterans, USRC, KFC Tokyo, HKFC Chairman’s Select, Kowloon Cricket Club and SCC Tigers.
The Masters’ event has 12 teams competing split into three groups of four teams for the round robin stage. The top two from each group and next best two teams from the group stage will progress to the Masters’ Cup knockout Quarter Finals and the remaining teams will compete for the Plate.
The competition will be held from May 23 to May 25 with group stages taking place on the evening of Friday May 23 and Saturday May 24. The knock-out phases will take place on Sunday May 25.
The round robin matches will be played 7-minutes each way moving to 10-minutes each way for Cup Quarter Finals onwards, including the Main Shield Semi-finals and all five finals.