Reigning HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens champions Leicester City will return to defend their title when the 2018 edition of the seven-a-side football tournament returns to Hong Kong Football Club in May.
Leicester City will be joined by last year’s runners-up – and six-time champions – Aston Villa when the 19th edition of the tournament, which is once again sponsored by Citi, takes place from May 18-20, 2018.
“It’s with great pleasure that we welcome back Leicester City, the 2017 HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens Champions, from the English Premier League, who will be returning to defend their title along with six-time winners and last year’s finalists Aston Villa,” says tournament director Chris Plowman.
“With a record 10 professional teams due from all over the world to face clubs from Hong Kong, including hosts Hong Kong Football Club, we are confident the standard of the 2018 edition of the competition will be as high as ever.”
Leicester City defeated Aston Villa 3-0 in last year’s final to claim the title for the second time having previously claimed the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens crown with victory over Newcastle United in the 2013 decider.
“Leicester City Football Club is looking forward to attending this year’s HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens,” said Ian Cawley, Leicester City Academy Manager. “Over previous seasons, the club has enjoyed magnificent success in Hong Kong, notably winning the Cup in 2013 and 2017.
“As such, we are delighted to be returning to Happy Valley this year to defend our crown and to compete against some of the most exciting talent from across the globe.
“Following our success last May, the Development Squad have impressed domestically and the opportunities provided by the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens are always of an extremely high standard.
“The demands of the tournament, its unique format and the challenges posed all contribute to a thrilling and useful week of competition for our young players.”
Aston Villa are the most successful club in the history of the event with six title wins, the first coming in 2002. Further victories were achieved in 2004, 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2016 before the club missed out on a seventh success in last year’s final.
“We are delighted to have been invited to the HKFC Soccer Sevens again,” says Aston Villa’s Academy Manager Sean Kimberley. “It’s such a prestigious tournament which has been part of our club’s development programme for a long time.
“We have been very fortunate to have had success in the tournament over the years, with the most recent being in 2016. Although we fell at the final hurdle last season we will be looking to go one better this time round.
“More importantly for us, it’s about developing the players. Our history and the tournament’s history show a number of players who have gone onto be Premier League winners and top international players have represented Aston Villa in this top class international tournament.”
The 2018 HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens will be the 19th edition of the event held at Hong Kong Football Club in Happy Valley, with 16 teams due to participate in the main event.
Ten teams will also compete in the Masters tournament, which has in the past attracted former stars such as ex-Liverpool and Ajax Amsterdam playmaker Jari Litmanen, former England and Nottingham Forest defender Des Walker as well as ex-England goalkeeper David James.