HONG KONG—The HKFC Citibank soccer 7’s takes place this weekend, May 29-31 at the Hong Kong Football Club ground at Sports Road, Happy Valley. There are 2 competitions, an open section contested by some overseas professional teams, local professional teams, and local and overseas amateur teams, and a masters, or veteran, section contested by ex-professional local and overseas teams, and local amateur teams, with players over 35 years of age.
The main competition is likely to be keenly contested, with the cup likely to be headed by the seeded teams which comprise 5 teams from the English Premier League – Aston Villa, Leicester City. Newcastle United, Stoke City, and West Ham United, last year’s La Liga Champions Atletico Madrid, local Premier League Champions Kitchee, and the A-League’s Wellington Phoenix from New Zealand. The group games should also be contested by Shanghai SIPG, 2 HKFA representative sides, Singapore Cricket Club, and a variety of local teams.
Five times Soccer 7’s champions Aston Villa will be looking to achieve their first title since 2010 and will include left back Lewis Kinsella and midfielder Ricardo Calder – both part of the first team squad this year. Aston Villa were last in the final in 2012, and have twice since won the second tier Shield trophy, contested by sides knocked out in the cup quarter finals during the knock out phase held on Sunday.
Aston Villa’s squad will contain Jerell Sellers and Calder from their 2013 squad, right back Tom Leggett and striker Harry Mckirdy from their 2014 squad, and goalkeeper Brad Wilkens, Northern Ireland midfielder Rory McHale, centre back’s Kodi Lyons-Foster and Niall Mason, and left winger Corey Taylor joining Kinsella as first timers at the tournament.
Newcastle United, West Ham United, Aston Villa, and Stoke City are the top seeds in groups A to D respectively, with the second seeds comprising Leicester City, Kitchee, Wellington Phoenix, and Atletico Madrid. Aston Villa are 5 times champions, whilst Newcastle United were champions in their 2012 soccer 7’s debut, Leicester City were champions of the 2013 tournament, and Kitchee were champions of the 2011 tournament, and runners-up in 2014.
Stoke City’s squad includes 17 year old midfielder Ollie Shenton, who was called into the England Under-18 squad last September, and made his Premier League debut when coming on as a substitute against Manchester City in February, Yusuf Coban who was in Germany’s Under 19 squad in March, Austria Under 21 goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann, midfielder Eddie Lecygne (France), and centre back Ryan O’Reilly (Ireland).
West Ham’s squad, in their first visit since 2012, contain strikers Jordan Brown and Djair Parfitt-Williams, and defenders Josh Pask and Alex Price.
Newcastle United, champions in 2012, runners-up in 2013, and semi finalists in 2014, will be hoping for significant contributions from Callum Roberts, who made his first team debut this year, and Tom Heardman, whilst they are joined by striker Alex Gillead, Turkish midfielder Daniel Barlaser, and defensive trio Macauley Gillesphy, Callum Williams and Adam Laidler who return from their 2014 squad.
Atletico Madrid are sending a squad of slightly older players than the English Premier League sides, while Wellington Phoenix will have a mix of first team and youth players.
In the masters competition there is also likely to be keen competition with Wallsend Boys Club returning to trying to improve on last year’s performance, Nottingham Forest Mobsters, USRC, Last year’s competition runners-up, and Kitchee All Stars looking to provide competition against the Citibank All Stars.
Allan Jackson has been involved in soccer for more than 40 years as a player, referee, administrator and freelance writer.