Two-time Masters champions Citi All Stars made an unbeaten start to the 20th anniversary edition of the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens at Hong Kong Football Club on Friday.
Citi All Stars, who lifted back-to-back titles in 2016 and 2017 but were eliminated at the semi-finals last year, began their campaign with a 2-0 victory over hosts HKFC Chairman’s Select, with the 2017 top scorer Jamie Cureton scoring twice.
The team made up of players from the Professional Footballers’ Association then rounded off Friday’s action with a goalless draw against 2018 runners-up Nottingham Forest Mobsters.
That leaves Citi All Stars, Nottingham Forest Mobsters and defending champions TDW Discovery Bay at the top of Group A with two games remaining on Saturday.
“It’s not bad to win one and draw one,” said Cureton, who recently became only the 29th player to play his 1000th competitive game.
“Nottingham Forest are a good team, so 0-0 is OK. We’d have liked to have won two out of two, but we’ve got two games left so hopefully we’ll pick up enough points to go through to the semi-finals. The plan for is to come back and score more goals than the opposition.”
Defending champions TDW Discovery Bay top the Group A on goals scored after drawing their opening game 2-2 against Singapore Cricket Club Masters before defeating HKFC Chairman’s Select 2-0.
Nottingham Forest Mobsters sit third on four points after beating 2-0 SCC Masters before their draw with Citi All Stars.
Wallsend Boys Club top Group B after following up their opening 2-0 win over KCC Veterans with a 1-0 win over HKFC Masters
“We’ve done OK, a little bit naive at times but we’ve done enough. We’re happy because the aim at the start of the day was to top the group,” said former Newcastle United goalkeeper Steve Harper.
“We’ve had two big games that we can learn from, but there’ll be tougher tests, I’m sure. Credit to both teams, they made it difficult for us, we’ll now have a quiet night tonight, learn the lessons, and then go again.”
Back for a third successive tournament, Playonpro then recorded a 2-1 win over Eleven FC.
“I was obviously pleased to get the goal, an added bonus,” said HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens regular Sinclair.
“Every year this tournament gets that little bit better. We had the opening ceremony [for the 20th anniversary] and we saw Marcel Desailly and Dean Saunders.
“It’s great to see these guys coming and it shows how important this competition is when you can get guest speakers like that. It’s great to be involved in and all the players get looked after so well.”