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  • Hong Kong, 09 April 2014 -

    Former champions Newcastle United will face Asian champions Guangzhou Evergrande, HKFA U-23 and hosts Hong Kong Football Club in Group A of next month’s HKFC Citibank Soccer Sevens, which will be held from May 23-25.
    Chelsea are the top seeds in Group B and will face fellow Premier League team Sunderland, Hong Kong champions Kitchee and HKFC Captain’s Select, following the Official Draw at Hong Kong Football Club this afternoon.
    Manchester City, making only their second appearance in the event, will take on Scottish giants Rangers, an HKFA qualifier and Singapore Cricket Club in Group C.
    Defending champions Leicester City, who secured promotion to the Premier League last Saturday, will begin the defence of their title with Group D matches against five-time champions Aston Villa, HKFA U-21 and Yau Yee League Select.
    Chelsea return after last playing two years ago, while the six other British clubs competed last May, when Leicester beat Newcastle 2-0 in the Cup final, which proved a lucky omen ahead of their stunning form in this season’s Championship.
    Guangzhou Evergrande – whose first team won the AFC Champions League last November after their third successive Chinese Super League title – will make their debut under experienced coach Zhou Suian.
    “We are preparing a young team to compete in the HKFC Citibank Soccer Sevens and although it’s our first time in the tournament, we want to make Guangzhou Evergrande proud because we’re not only representing the club but also Chinese and Asian football,” said Zhou, the club’s U-17 head coach.
    “We have a difficult group with Newcastle United, the HKFA U-23 team and Hong Kong Football Club. Newcastle are very famous, have a great history and are the 2012 champions, so I think they will be favourites to win the group, but the teams from Hong Kong will also be strong, especially as they will be playing at home and are familiar with the tournament.”
    Weber Lo, Citi Country Officer and Chief Executive Officer, Hong Kong and Macau, said the inclusion of seven British clubs, Guangzhou Evergrande and reigning Hong Kong champions Kitchee should prove appealing to local football fans.
    “It’s exciting to see all the teams in their groups and we can start to feel the tournament taking shape. I know all the teams are interested to see their first opponents at Hong Kong Football Club, where we’re again expecting big crowds,” Lo said.
    “I’m also looking forward to our own Citibank All Stars doing their best in the Masters competition and I know they will have a strong squad this year.”
    Rangers Legends will begin the defence of their Masters title with Group A matches against Wallsend Boys Club and Hong Kong sides USRC (United Services Recreation Club) and Kowloon Cricket Club. Rangers are looking for a third Cup success, after first winning the Masters in 2008.
    Aegon Ajax All Stars, the 2012 champions and last year’s runners-up, were drawn in Group B with local side Eastern Salon and two teams from the host club – HKFC Veterans and HKFC Chairman’s Select.
    Citibank All Stars, finalists in 2011, will face Nottingham Forest Mobsters, KFC Tokyo of Japan and SCC Tigers from Singapore in Group C of the 12-team Masters competition.
    Tony Bratsanos, Chairman of the HKFC Soccer Sevens Organising Committee, was pleased by the increasing diversity and quality of the competition.
    “I think we have one of our strongest-ever line-ups this year, with Chelsea and Manchester City representing two of world football’s biggest clubs, defending champions Leicester City, former winners Newcastle United and Aston Villa, two-time finalists Rangers, and Sunderland,” Bratsanos said.
    “Guangzhou Evergrande’s debut is a sign of the tournament’s increasing regional appeal, while we’re also proud that we’ll again have four professional clubs and three amateur teams from Hong Kong in the Main tournament.”
    Mark Sutcliffe, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Football Association, was confident that Hong Kong would be well represented by reigning champions Kitchee, another First Division club to be confirmed, and HKFA U-23 and U-21 age-group teams.
    “Kitchee won the HKFC Citibank Soccer Sevens in 2011 and as Hong Kong champions, we expect them to have a strong side, while we’re happy to field two HKFA age-group sides as this will help develop some of the city’s most promising talent,” Sutcliffe said.
    “The HKFC Citibank Soccer Sevens is one of the city’s most popular annual tournaments for local players and fans, and we expect another fantastic three days at Hong Kong Football Club.”
    Tickets are on sale from April 14 and are available at www.cityline.com. Entry is free on the Friday evening, while tickets for the weekend are priced at HK$160 per day or HK$300 for a two-day pass.
    The tournament will start with the opening round of Masters group games on Friday evening, May 23. All the Main group matches and the remaining Masters group games are held on the Saturday before the knockout stages for both competitions take place on Sunday.
    Future stars who have competed in the Main competition include Gabriel Agbonlahor, Glen Johnson, Marc Albrighton, David Bentley, Anton Ferdinand, Sammy Ameobi and Shaun Maloney.
    The Masters tournament has featured former England internationals Peter Beardsley, John Barnes, Chris Waddle, Teddy Sheringham, Des Walker, Andy Cole and Matt Le Tissier, German legends Jurgen Klinsmann and Pierre Littbarski, former France winger Didier Six and Finnish icon Jari Litmanen.
    Citibank has title sponsored the event since 2011 and other sponsors this year include British Airways, Nike, Aegon, The Excelsior and Boase Cohen & Collins.
    Main Tournament
    Group A: Newcastle United (ENG), Guangzhou Evergrande (CHN), HKFA U-23 (HKG), Hong Kong Football Club (HKG)     
    Group B: Chelsea (ENG), Sunderland (ENG), Kitchee (HKG), HKFC Captain’s Select (HKG)
    Group C: Manchester City (ENG), Rangers (SCO), HKFA Qualifier (HKG), Singapore Cricket Club (SIN)
    Group D: Leicester City (ENG), Aston Villa (ENG), HKFA U-21 (HKG), Yau Yee League Select (HKG)
    Masters Tournament
    Group A: Rangers Legends (SCO), Wallsend Boys Club (ENG), USRC (HKG), Kowloon Cricket Club (HKG)
    Group B: Aegon Ajax All Stars (NED), Eastern Salon (HKG), HKFC Chairman’s Select (HKG), HKFC Veterans (HKG)
    Group C: Citibank All Stars (INT), Nottingham Forest Mobsters (ENG), KFC Tokyo (JPN), SCC Tigers (SIN)

  • Hong Kong, 01 April 2014 -

    Rangers Legends have confirmed Spanish striker Nacho Novo for the defence of their Masters title at next month’s HKFC Citibank Soccer Sevens, which will be held at Hong Kong Football Club from May 23-25.
    Peter Beardsley will return to the Masters competition, but this time will play for debutants Wallsend Boys Club, the historic Newcastle-based youth club that has groomed over 60 professional players including Beardsley and fellow England internationals Alan Shearer and Michael Carrick.
    Aegon Ajax All Stars, the 2012 champions and last year’s runners-up, Citibank All Stars and Nottingham Forest Mobsters will join Rangers among the top four seeds.
    Wallsend are in the second four-team tier of seeds for next week’s draw along with 2010 champions KFC Tokyo of Japan and local clubs Eastern Salon and USRC (United Services Recreation Club).
    Two Hong Kong Football Club teams, Kowloon Cricket Club and Singapore Cricket Club round out the 12-team draw, which will be split into four three-team groups.
    Rangers, who won their first Masters title in 2008, are already forming a formidable and familiar squad in their bid to win the Cup for a third time.
    Former Netherlands striker Michael Mols, Trinidadian centre-back Marvin Andrews and Scottish stars Alex Rae, Charlie Miller, Derek Ferguson, Scott Nisbet and goalkeeper Andy Goram are all set to return from last year’s winning squad.
    Novo, who turned 35 last Wednesday, is the only new addition so far. Midfielder Rae believes Novo could form a fearsome partnership with Mols, the Spaniard having taken over the Dutchman’s number 10 shirt when he joined Rangers in July 2004.
    “Up front, Mikey’s technically very good and little Nacho will provide the legs this year. It’s always good to get one or two younger ones into the squad,” said Rae, who helped Rangers win the 2004/05 Scottish Premier League in the first of his two seasons as teammates with Novo.
    “Nacho’s a terrific little player. He scored the winning goal in the last game of the 2004/05 season which secured the title, so I have fond memories of the little man.”
    Rae, who played for Sunderland and Wolves in the English Premier League before moving back to Scotland in 2004, said Rangers Legends are determined to retain their Masters title in Hong Kong.
    “To be fair, the boys always take it very seriously. I think that’s reflected by the fact we’ve won it twice. We take it seriously and I think that’s the way to approach it,” Rae said.
    “We won it on my first visit to Hong Kong. There’s one or two of us still remaining from that team, including Andy [Goram], who was sensational that first year. He tore his hamstring, but continued playing and if he hadn’t, we wouldn’t have won it. That’s a fact.”
    Weber Lo, Citi Country Officer and Chief Executive Officer, Hong Kong and Macau, welcomed back the defending Masters champions.
    “Rangers Legends are a credit to the HKFC Citibank Soccer Sevens and were deserving winners last year after an excellent final against the Aegon Ajax All Stars, who themselves were great champions in 2012,” Lo said.
    “It’s a pleasure to welcome back the defending champions for the Masters competition and it looks like Rangers have already organised a very strong squad to defend their title. And of course, I also look forward to receiving our own Citibank All Stars who reached the final in 2011.”
    In the Main competition, Leicester City will defend their title, while English Premier League clubs Chelsea, Manchester City, Newcastle United, Aston Villa and Sunderland, Scottish giants Rangers and Chinese champions Guangzhou Evergrande are also among the top eight seeds in the 16-team competition.
    Chelsea last played two years ago, while the six other British clubs competed last May, when Leicester beat 2012 champions Newcastle 2-0 in the Cup final. Guangzhou Evergrande, whose first team won last year’s AFC Champions League, are making their tournament debut under experienced coach Zhou Suian.
    The tournament will start with the opening round of Masters pool games on Friday evening, May 23. All the Main group matches and the remaining Masters pool games are held on the Saturday before the knockout stages for both competitions take place on Sunday.
    Future stars who have competed in the Main competition include Gabriel Agbonlahor, Glen Johnson, Marc Albrighton, David Bentley, Anton Ferdinand, Sammy Ameobi and Shaun Maloney.
    The Masters tournament has featured former England internationals Peter Beardsley, John Barnes, Chris Waddle, Teddy Sheringham, Des Walker, Andy Cole and Matt Le Tissier, German legends Jurgen Klinsmann and Pierre Littbarski, former France winger Didier Six and Finnish icon Jari Litmanen.
    Citibank has title sponsored the event since 2011 and other sponsors this year include British Airways, Nike, Aegon, The Excelsior and Boase Cohen & Collins.

  • Hong Kong, 20 March 2014 -

    Asian champions Guangzhou Evergrande will make their tournament debut at this year’s HKFC Citibank Soccer Sevens, which will be held at Hong Kong Football Club from May 23-25.
    Winners of the Chinese Super League for the last three years, Guangzhou Evergrande will feature among the top eight seeds with English Premier League clubs Chelsea, Manchester City, Newcastle United, Aston Villa and Sunderland, holders Leicester City and Scottish giants Rangers, who will all field youth and academy sides.
    Experienced coach Zhou Suian will manage the young Guangzhou Evergrande side, as the club make their tournament debut just months after winning the AFC Champions League for the first time and finishing fourth in the FIFA Club World Cup.
    “As the reigning Asian champions, Guangzhou Evergrande are proud to be making our tournament debut at the HKFC Citibank Soccer Sevens,” Zhou said.
    “Our senior team has won the Chinese Super League for three years and made China proud with our AFC Champions League victory, so we’re very excited to compete in Hong Kong but we also feel a responsibility to perform well.
    “We’ll have a very young side and it will be our first time, so it will be difficult against so many famous clubs from England, Scotland and Hong Kong, but we’ll do our best.”
    Guangzhou won their third straight Chinese Super League title by 18 points last November before edging FC Seoul on the away goals rule to win the AFC Champions League final and become China’s first continental champions since Liaoning in 1990.
    Zhou, 53, said Guangzhou Evergrande’s participation in the popular Hong Kong tournament reflects their growing international profile, yet is still convenient for a club who only need to take a bus to reach the city.
    “This tournament is very international with many world-famous clubs, but it’s almost local for us because Hong Kong is so close,” Zhou said. “We hope to have a few supporters join us at the tournament and hopefully we’ll make some new friends when we’re there.”
    Tony Bratsanos, Chairman of the HKFC Citibank Soccer Sevens Organising Committee, believes the addition of Guangzhou to the tournament has created a unique line-up for football fans.
    “Guangzhou Evergrande’s participation in the HKFC Citibank Soccer Sevens for the first time is a sign that the event is evolving and widening its scope. As the reigning champions in China and Asia, they are a huge addition and we are excited they will be among eight pro clubs coming to Hong Kong,” Bratsanos said.
    “Chelsea are currently leading the Premier League, so our 16-team Main competition currently features the best of England, the best of Asia, the best of China and the best of Hong Kong, which is a real coup.
    “There’s a great range of top teams to watch and support. We will soon confirm the line-up of teams in the Masters tournament, which will again feature a wide range of famous international stars.”
    Chelsea last played two years ago, while the six other British clubs competed last May, when Leicester beat 2012 champions Newcastle 2-0 in the Cup final.
    Most of the British clubs will be fielding players between the ages of 17 to 21 as they bid to win a tournament that each year features future Premier League and international stars. Aston Villa have won the event a record five times.
    Four HKFA teams will be confirmed nearer the time, while amateur sides Hong Kong Football Club, HKFC Captain’s Select, Yau Yee League Select and Singapore Cricket Club will also compete in the 16-team Main competition. The line-up of the 12-team Masters competition will be announced soon and ticket details will be confirmed in April.
    The tournament will start with the opening round of Masters pool games on Friday evening, May 23. All the Main group matches and the remaining Masters pool games are held on the Saturday before the knockout stages for both competitions take place on Sunday.
    Future stars who have competed in the Main competition include Gabriel Agbonlahor, Glen Johnson, Marc Albrighton, David Bentley, Anton Ferdinand, Sammy Ameobi and Shaun Maloney.
    The Masters tournament has featured former England internationals Peter Beardsley, John Barnes, Chris Waddle, Teddy Sheringham, Des Walker, Andy Cole and Matt Le Tissier, German legends Jurgen Klinsmann and Pierre Littbarski, former France winger Didier Six and Finnish icon Jari Litmanen.
    Citibank has title sponsored the event since 2011 and other sponsors this year include British Airways, Nike, Aegon and The Excelsior.
     

  • Hong Kong, 13 March 2014 -

    Premier League sides Manchester City, Chelsea, Newcastle United, Aston Villa and Sunderland, and Scottish giants Rangers will be among the teams challenging holders Leicester City (pictured above) at this year’s HKFC Citibank Soccer Sevens.
    The 15th edition of the tournament will be held from May 23-25 at Hong Kong Football Club, host venue since the inaugural event in 1999.
    Chelsea will compete for only the second time after making their debut two years ago, while the six other British clubs competed last May, when Leicester beat 2012 champions Newcastle 2-0 in the Cup final.
    Most of the British clubs will be fielding players between the ages of 17 to 21 as they bid to win a tournament that each year features future Premier League and international stars. Aston Villa have won the event a record five times.
    Despite the array of Premier League clubs on display, Leicester City Academy Director Jon Rudkin said the club are keen to defend their Cup title as they make a third straight appearance in Hong Kong.
    “It’s a terrific tournament to be involved in and we’re delighted to be coming back to defend the title in 2014. Winning the Cup last year was a fantastic achievement for the players involved,” Rudkin said.
    “Having won the Shield the previous year, to go on and win the Main tournament in only our second appearance was a feat everyone at the club was extremely proud of. The players involved in both visits learned a great deal about the format from the first time and used that experience with real intelligence when we came back last year.”
    Rudkin and his young charges hope they’ll be part of a newly promoted club by the time they head for Hong Kong, with Leicester’s first team currently leading England’s second-tier Championship.
    “It will be a very good test for our young players in a very intense environment and I’m sure it will be another valuable learning experience for them,” Rudkin said. “We have a lot of faith in our young players, who have shown in the last two years that we’re very capable of competing while playing some exciting football.”
    Mark Allen, Manchester City’s Head of Academy, said the Blues are looking forward to building on their debut last year, when they were knocked out in the Cup quarter-finals by Rangers and lost to Aston Villa in the Shield final.
    “I thought it was a fantastic experience. It was well organised and well coordinated, and equivalent to any top tournament I’ve been to. It was a pleasant surprise that it was so well organised,” Allen said.
    “I thought the format was fantastic and it was also great from the development perspective as well. We’re all really looking forward to coming back.”
    Weber Lo, Citi Country Officer and Chief Executive Officer, Hong Kong and Macau, said the confirmation of seven leading British clubs signalled the tournament’s growing reputation.
    “We’re delighted that Leicester City are back to defend their title at the HKFC Citibank Soccer Sevens as we also welcome back Manchester City, Chelsea, Rangers, Sunderland and former champions Aston Villa and Newcastle,” Lo said.
    “It’s exciting to announce seven such major clubs so early and it’s recognition of the tournament’s world-class reputation that these teams keep returning to Hong Kong Football Club. Citibank is proud to title sponsor such an international tournament in Asia for the fourth year, and we look forward to another great and exciting tournament this May.”
    Citibank has title sponsored the event since 2011 and other sponsors this year include British Airways, Nike, Aegon and The Excelsior hotel.
    The remaining sides in the 16-team Main competition and the line-up of the 12-team Masters competition will be announced soon, while ticket details will be announced in April.
    The tournament will start with the opening round of Masters pool games on Friday evening, May 23. All the Main group matches and the remaining Masters pool games are held on the Saturday before the knockout stages for both competitions take place on Sunday.
    Future stars who have competed in the Main competition include Gabriel Agbonlahor, Glen Johnson, Marc Albrighton, David Bentley, Anton Ferdinand, Sammy Ameobi and Shaun Maloney.
    The Masters tournament has featured former England internationals Peter Beardsley, John Barnes, Chris Waddle, Teddy Sheringham, Des Walker, Andy Cole and Matt Le Tissier, German legends Jurgen Klinsmann and Pierre Littbarski, former France winger Didier Six and Finnish icon Jari Litmanen.

  • Hong Kong, 26 May 2013 -

    Leicester City won the Soccer Sevens for the first time when they stunned defending champions Newcastle United in the Cup final.
    First-half goals from Michael Cain and Harry Panayiotou gave the Foxes a memorable 2-0 victory and brought to an end Newcastle’s 11-game winning streak in the tournament.
    Leicester won the second-tier Shield on their first visit to Hong Kong 12 months ago but this year the Championship club upstaged their Premier League counterparts – who also included Manchester City and Aston Villa – to lift the Cup.
    “We had the experience of playing in last year’s tournament and I think we also benefited from the freshness of the new players we brought this time,” said coach Jon Rudkin. “There are some excellent teams here so we’re delighted to be winning a tournament of this standard.”
    Leicester lost 2-0 to Newcastle in their group clash on Saturday and Rudkin said his team had used that experience to prepare for the final.
    “We learnt a lot from that first game,” he revealed. “We were aware Newcastle had some excellent players and they’ve been tremendous in this tournament, not just this year but last year as well. But we knew the final was a one-off game so we just had to dig in and give it a go.”
    Rudkin paid tribute to 18-year-old striker Panayiotou, who scored five goals during the weekend and was named Player of the Tournament.
    “He’s a strong boy, he’s hard to mark and he’s always going to go and get you goals. He’s done well here. But all the players have stood out with the way they have coped with the heat and competed so well in this tournament environment. I’m delighted with them.”
    Captain Alie Sesay hailed his teammates. “The average age of our team was about 18.4 years, so we were one of the youngest teams here,” he said. “Not only that, we were up against some big hitters like Manchester City and Aston Villa, which made us the underdogs, but we’ve proved ourselves. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the Premier League or not.
    “We got off to a quick start in the final which was great for our belief. Michael Cain and Harry Panayiotou are quality players and when they got us ahead we grew in confidence.”
    After winning all six of their matches at the Soccer Sevens last year, Newcastle won their first five this time around but had no answer to Leicester’s flying start.
    Coach Willie Donachie refused to be downhearted. “The first goal is important in a tournament like this and especially in a final,” he said. “But the players gave everything they had and hopefully they’ll learn from the experience.”
    Earlier, Leicester knocked out five-time Soccer Sevens winners Aston Villa with a thrilling 4-3 victory in extra time of their quarter-final.
    Leicester raced into a three-goal lead thanks to Jak McCourt and a Panayiotou double before Villa replied with two goals from Jack Grealish, the second a penalty, and Jerell Sellars. But Leicester bounced back to win it with a golden goal from Cain.
    Panayiotou was on target again to give the Foxes a 1-0 win over Sunderland in the semi-finals.
    Rudkin praised Soccer Sevens organisers for their efforts in putting on the event, which was first played in 1999. “It’s an outstanding tournament. We’re very privileged to be invited and to be able to play here,” he said.
    “We want to thank our owners for providing us with the opportunity to come to Hong Kong and we’d like to thank Hong Kong Football Club for putting on such a fantastic event. It’s certainly the best youth tournament that I’ve been involved in.”
     
    Released on behalf of the HKFC Citbank International Soccer Sevens by Two Up Front – Asia's sports PR specialists.

  • Hong Kong, 26 May 2013 -

    The Rangers All Stars showed they had lost none of their magic after five years away from the Soccer Sevens as they lifted the Masters Cup.
    The Scottish giants gave a superb team display to stun the defending champions, the Aegon Ajax All Stars, 2-1 in an entertaining final.
    Midfielder Alex Rae was the man of the moment with a superb left-foot strike midway through the second half to give Rangers victory. Midfielder Jörg “The Hammer” Albertz had put the Ibrox old boys ahead with a penalty before Kenneth Pérez equalised for Ajax, also from the spot.
    Rae was one of four players – the others being goalkeeper Andy Goram, Derek Ferguson and Mark Walters – who won the Masters Cup with the Rangers All Stars in 2008, their last appearance in the Soccer Sevens until this year.
    “I’m absolutely delighted, the boys worked really hard for this,” said Rae. “It’s great to come back and win it again after five years. Many of us have been back here in the meantime, playing for other teams, but this is the first time we’ve had an official Rangers team since then.
    “The fact this win has come against Ajax makes it even more special because they are a brilliant team.”
    Rae was especially happy with his goal. “It was great because I’m right footed and I just took a swing with my left and it flew in. I’ve told Jörg Albertz that now I should be known as ‘The Hammer’!”
    Ajax had been hot favourites to retain the title they won in such style last year and this time added Champions League winner and 137-cap Finland hero Jari Litmanen to their powerful line-up.
    But Rangers also beefed up their squad with Dutch duo Arthur Numan and Michael Mols and Germany’s Albertz.
    Coach Ian Durrant confirmed that Mols’ presence in attack had been a crucial factor. “Michael is a fantastic football player and he gave us some speed and threat up front, which you need in these types of games,” said Durrant.
    “If you look at Ajax they have some tremendous players and we knew we had to work hard as a team to compete against them. But we had a very good team as well, plus fantastic support from the Rangers fans here in Hong Kong.”
    Former Denmark striker Pérez, with an incredible 11 goals during the weekend, was named Masters Player of the Tournament for the second year running.
     
    Released on behalf of the HKFC Citbank International Soccer Sevens by Two Up Front – Asia's sports PR specialists.

  • Hong Kong, 26 May 2013 -

    Scores of youngsters enjoyed the football experience of a lifetime when they competed in front of a packed crowd at Hong Kong Football Club in the finals of the Junior Soccer Sevens.
    After group and early knockout matches were played at HKFC the previous weekend, a total of eight finals were played in Cup and Plate competitions across four age groups on Saturday and Sunday. In addition, there was an exhibition match featuring the HKFC Crusaders special needs players plus an U14 girls exhibition encounter.
    There was also a curtain raiser to the adult Soccer Sevens in the form of two tournaments for U8 and U9 players on Friday afternoon.
    “The Junior Soccer Sevens, the qualifying tournaments, the Crusaders and girls exhibition matches and, of course, the Plate and Cup finals played this weekend, was once again a fantastic showcase for our young players,” said Chris Plowman, Chairman of HKFC Junior Soccer and Director of the Junior Sevens tournament.
    “Junior soccer has become an integral part of the main Soccer Sevens and it is an unforgettable experience for many of these youngsters to play in front of a large crowd and to rub shoulders with some of the sport’s famous players.”
    RESULTS
    Cup
    -- U10 Cup final: Tai Tam Tigers 0 Asia Pacific Soccer Schools 0 (Cup shared by both teams)
    -- U11 Cup final: Kitchee 2 Tai Tam Tigers 0
    -- U12 Cup final: HK Football Club 2 HK Football Academy 1
    -- U13 Cup final: HK Football Academy 2 Chelsea Soccer Schools 0
    Plate
    -- U10 Plate final: Chelsea Soccer Schools 6 HK Football Academy 0
    -- U11 Plate final: HK Football Academy 2 ESF Lions 0
    -- U12 Plate final: HK Dragons 2 Chelsea Soccer Schools 0
    -- U13 Plate final: Kitchee 0 Brasil Top Skills 0 (Kitchee won 8-7 on penalties)
    Exhibition matches
    -- U14 Girls: HK Football Academy 1 HK Football Club 0
    -- Crusaders: Crusaders Blues 2 Crusaders Reds 1
     
    Released on behalf of the HKFC Citbank International Soccer Sevens by Two Up Front – Asia's sports PR specialists.

  • Hong Kong, 26 May 2013 -

    Defending champions Newcastle United made it back into the Cup final of the Soccer Sevens with a breathless 3-2 semi-final victory over Rangers.
    The Magpies’ Michael Richardson cancelled out Robbie Crawford’s opener for Rangers to leave the teams level at half-time. A strike from Sammy Ameobi put Newcastle ahead early in the second half only for Rangers’ Jamie Burrows to bring his team back into it with a superb solo goal.
    But Rangers’ celebrations were cut short when, barely a minute later, Ameobi finished clinically and the champions held on for the win.
    In the second semi-final, Leicester City ended prospects of an all-northeast final when they overcame Sunderland 1-0. A first-half goal from striker Harry Panayiotou was enough to secure victory and send the Foxes into their first Soccer Sevens Cup final.
     
    Released on behalf of the HKFC Citbank International Soccer Sevens by Two Up Front – Asia's sports PR specialists.

  • Hong Kong, 26 May 2013 -

    Scottish giants Rangers ended Manchester City’s bid for Cup success with a 3-1 victory in the quarter-finals.
    Goals from Robbie Crawford, Andrew Murdoch and Charlie Telfer (penalty) sent Rangers through at the expense of debutants City, whose goal came from Jack Byrne.
    Rangers face a semi-final against the Soccer Sevens defending champions, Newcastle United, who beat Hong Kong club Citizen 2-0 in their quarter-final. Conor Newton and James Tavernier both scored for the Magpies in the first half.
    A Billy Knott double was enough to give Sunderland a 2-1 quarter-final victory over Hong Kong league champions South China, who replied through Au Yeung Yiu Chung.
    Sunderland’s semi-final opponents will be Leicester City, who knocked out five-time Soccer Sevens winners Aston Villa with a thrilling 4-3 victory after extra time.
    Leicester raced into a three-goal lead thanks to Jak McCourt and a Harry Panayiotou double before Villa replied with two goals from Jack Grealish, the second a penalty, and Jerell Sellars. But Leicester bounced back to win it with a golden goal from Michael Cain.
     
    Released on behalf of the HKFC Citbank International Soccer Sevens by Two Up Front – Asia's sports PR specialists.

  • Hong Kong, 25 May 2013 -

    Newcastle United showed exactly why they are the defending champions at the Soccer Sevens as they stormed into the Cup quarter-finals.
    The Magpies won all three of their matches, scoring nine goals without reply, to top Group B. Striker Sammy Ameobi led the way with four goals.
    Coach Willie Donachie said it was a good day’s work by his players. “I’m delighted, they’ve shown great attitude,” he said. “We’ve got some quite experienced players who have played in the league at different levels, either Premier League or on loan in the lower divisions, so you are never sure how they are going to react to a tournament like this, but their work-rate has been excellent.
    “It helps that we’ve got five players who won this event last year, but you’ve still got to show the right sort of commitment and they’ve done that. We got off to a flying start in a couple of the games with a goal in the first minute and that is down to their approach, they work hard right from the start.”
    Newcastle beat HKFC Captain’s Select 2-0 and local First Division side Southern 5-0 before overcoming Leicester City 2-0 in their final match. Leicester finished second in the table to also reach the Cup quarter-finals.
    Soccer Sevens debutants Manchester City stumbled in their opening match in Group A, drawing 1-1 with local amateurs Yau Yee League Select, but they disposed of Singapore Cricket Club 5-0 and Sunderland 2-0 to top the table.
    In the Masters competition, defending champions Aegon Ajax All Stars marched into the Cup quarter-finals after winning all three of their group matches.
     
    Released on behalf of the HKFC Citbank International Soccer Sevens by Two Up Front – Asia's sports PR specialists.

  • Hong Kong, 25 May 2013 -

    Five-time Soccer Sevens winners Aston Villa cruised into the Cup quarter-finals by finishing top of Group D on Saturday.
    Villa were not at their fluent best in their opening match as they beat local amateur team Kowloon Cricket Club 1-0. But they showed their class with a 4-0 victory over Hong Kong First Division club Citizen – with Jack Grealish netting a hat-trick – and finished off with a goalless draw against another local top-flight team, BC Rangers.
    Villa coach Sean Verity was delighted with stand-in goalkeeper Jamie Devonshire, an emergency call-up from hosts Hong Kong Football Club when regular keeper Brad Watkins was ruled out with a throat infection after travelling with the squad to Hong Kong.
    “I’m really pleased for him,” said Verity. “It must be a massive thing for him, let alone the lads that have come here who are used to playing for Aston Villa. He’s been thrown in at the last minute with lads he doesn’t know.
    “Three clean sheets will give him a bit of confidence. It is fantastic for the kid and without him we’d be struggling. We’d be sticking one of the outfield players in goal which means we’d be changing somewhere else.”
    South China flew the flag for local football by winning Group C, edging out Scottish giants Rangers on goal difference. Both clubs qualified for Sunday’s Cup quarter-finals.
     
    Released on behalf of the HKFC Citbank International Soccer Sevens by Two Up Front – Asia's sports PR specialists.

  • Hong Kong, 25 May 2013 -

    Due to a rainstorm that interrupted play on Saturday morning, matches at the Soccer Sevens are now running approximately 46 minutes behind schedule. Please see the Match Schedule for updated times.
     
    Released on behalf of the HKFC Citbank International Soccer Sevens by Two Up Front – Asia's sports PR specialists.

  • Hong Kong, 24 May 2013 -

    Former Tottenham star Darren Anderton made a scoring return to Hong Kong after a 17-year absence in the opening match of the Soccer Sevens.
    Anderton struck in the second half to give local side CLA Discovery Bay a 1-0 victory over HKFC Chairman’s Select.
    “It’s always nice to start with a win,” he said. “It was hard work but good fun. The last time I was here was with England in 1996 before the European Championships, which was a great tournament for us, so I have good memories of this place.”
    Anderton has teamed up with his ex-England colleagues Teddy Sheringham and Peter Beardsley to guest star for CLA Discovery Bay in the Masters section.
    Former Spurs midfielder David Howells and ex-Leeds striker Ian Baird are also in the squad, which is being coached by New Zealand national team manager Ricki Herbert.
    “Obviously I play a few games with the ex-Tottenham boys back home so I see quite a lot of the guys,” added Anderton. “It’s nice to team up with them again here in Hong Kong and to enjoy a game of football without too much pressure. We’ve been here a couple of days now and we’re really enjoying it.”
    CLA Discovery Bay dominated possession in the Group A clash but looked like they might have to settle for a draw before Anderton tapped in a superb cross from Beardsley with two minutes remaining.
    In Group B, former England fullback Michael Gray and ex-Portugal midfielder Luís Boa Morte, with a penalty, gave the Citibank All Stars a 2-0 win over Singapore Cricket Club Tigers.
    The Aegon Ajax All Stars, the defending champions, made a winning start in Group C with a 3-1 victory over Kowloon Cricket Club veterans. Former Denmark international Kenneth Pérez, last year’s Masters Player of the Tournament, scored a hat-trick.
     
    Released on behalf of the HKFC Citbank International Soccer Sevens by Two Up Front – Asia's sports PR specialists.

  • Hong Kong, 24 May 2013 -

    Manchester City Academy manager Mark Allen is braced for a “learning experience” as his team prepare to make their debut in the Soccer Sevens.
    The English giants are aiming to emulate the achievement of Newcastle United last year in winning the tournament at their first attempt.
    And Allen admits it is a journey into the unknown for the City contingent, himself included. “It is the first time in Hong Kong for all of us except for our coach Jason Wilcox, who came here as a player with England,” he confirmed.
    “Our decision to come here has always been about development, so we’ve brought a very young squad. It is a great experience for them to play in a different climate in a recognised, competitive tournament and to see a new culture.
    “Playing seven-a-side on almost a full-sized pitch is something new for the players. It will certainly test them fitness wise and they are going to have moments when the game gets tough for them, when play gets stretched.”
    Allen is also looking forward to seeing how his players adapt off the pitch. “It is a life experience for them, absolutely, a major part of their development,” he said. “As footballers, they are going to be expected to travel all over the world, play in different continents and different time zones, and in different conditions, so it is an extremely important part of their learning.”
    City have been drawn in Group A of the Main tournament where their opponents are Sunderland, Singapore Cricket Club and Yau Yee League Select.
     
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  • Hong Kong, 24 May 2013 -

    Sunderland coach Kevin Ball expects several of his players to be flying high after getting a taste of life with the first team squad last weekend.
    Five youngsters who have travelled to Hong Kong – Billy Knott, Adam Mitchell, Liam Marrs, Scott Harrison and David Ferguson – were named as substitutes for the final Premier League match at Tottenham, with midfielder Knott and striker Mitchell being sent on for their Premier League debuts.
    Ball said the impact of new manager Paolo Di Canio, who took over at relegation-threatened Sunderland towards the end of the season and steered them to safety, had been significant. “Paolo’s arrival has given the players a great deal of incentive, as has retaining our Premiership status,” he emphasised.
    “The new manager is saying, ‘The door is open, you’ve got to walk through it.’ You hope that one or two of them will take that chance. So Billy and Adam are buzzing after making their debuts and so they should be. To play in the Premier League is an amazing experience and that first game is always so memorable.”
    The Black Cats reached the Cup semi-finals on each of their two previous appearances in the Soccer Sevens, losing to Rangers in 2010 and arch-rivals Newcastle United last year, and Ball is hoping he and his coaching team can put that experience to good use.
    “We’ve emphasised to the players that when the ball goes to our forwards we need to get up in support. And when we’re in possession of the ball, don’t give it away cheaply because if you do you might not get it back for a while.
    “Some of our staff who came out last year did a report for us and I’ve been out here before coaching, so we’ve relayed that to the players and hopefully they will take it on board. If they do they will give themselves a chance, if they don’t they might find out what it’s like to run around a lot!”
     
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  • Hong Kong, 23 May 2013 -

    Finnish superstar Jari Litmanen will use the Soccer Sevens this weekend to showcase his skills and – just as importantly – his fitness.
    The European football great, now 42, played his last competitive match at the end of 2011 as he helped HJK to a league and cup double in his native country.
    “My last official game was one and a half years ago and, after that, I had a knee operation and couldn’t play in 2012,” he revealed. “So I’m not finished yet. I haven’t officially retired and I still haven’t decided what to do. I’m fit and looking forward to the Soccer Sevens.”
    Litmanen will appear for the powerful Aegon Ajax All Stars in the Soccer Sevens. The evergreen striker is one of five new faces in the Ajax squad as they defend the Masters Cup they won in such style last year with a 6-1 victory over Hong Kong side Top Class.
    The newcomers also include Aron Winter, who played 84 times for Holland and appeared for Lazio and Internazionale in Italy, and fellow midfielder Kiki Musampa, who had spells with Málaga and Atlético Madrid in Spain and English giants Manchester City.
    Among those returning for Ajax is former Denmark striker Kenneth Pérez – scorer of four goals in last year’s final and named Masters Player of the Tournament.
    Litmanen is looking forward to playing in Hong Kong for the first time after weather cut short his last appearance in the territory. “I was here with Ajax 15 years ago when we supposed to play a match,” he recalled. “It was beautiful weather for four or five days, but then on the last day there was a huge storm, so we couldn’t play.
    “The ironic thing was, I was due to fly out immediately after the game, before the rest of the team, as I was needed in Finland to play for the national team. But in the end, the match was cancelled. So now I will finally get to play in Hong Kong – hopefully!”
    Litmanen could be forgiven for thinking history was repeating itself when the Aegon Ajax All Stars landed in Hong Kong on Wednesday immediately a rainstorm had battered the city. But glorious sunshine greeted the players when they held their first training session at HKFC on Thursday.
    Rated Finland’s greatest ever player, Litmanen is still enjoying his football after a glittering 25-year career in which he earned 137 caps for his country, won the Champions League with Ajax in 1995 and played for European giants Barcelona and Liverpool.
    Other big names in the Masters competition include former England trio Teddy Sheringham, Peter Beardsley and Darren Anderton, who are playing for local side CLA Discovery Bay, and the Rangers All Stars with former Dutch internationals Arthur Numan and Michael Mols and ex-Germany star Jörg Albertz.
     
    Released on behalf of the HKFC Citbank International Soccer Sevens by Two Up Front – Asia's sports PR specialists.

  • Hong Kong, 23 May 2013 -

    Manchester United legend Joe Jordan reckons the club have got it absolutely right in choosing David Moyes as Sir Alex Ferguson’s replacement.
    Jordan – guest speaker at tonight’s Soccer Sevens Sportsman’s Dinner – has known Moyes for many years and believes his fellow Scot has all the qualities to be a success.
    “I played alongside David at Bristol City when I was coming to the end of my career and he was starting out on his,” said Jordan. “He’s a dedicated guy. When he was a footballer he had principles and he’s been the same way as a manager, from when he started at Preston and throughout the long time he’s been at Everton.
    “He’s got a big task ahead of him and all you can ask is that they try to maintain the dynasty. As a kid, United were the team I supported along with Celtic, so I’m a bit biased, but it’s a huge club and David Moyes is the right man for the job.”
    Jordan has spent more than 40 years at the elite level of football as player, coach and manager. So, with all his experience, he was not surprised to see Ferguson step down after 26 years of success at United. “I wouldn’t say it was a shock, not when you analyse it,” he said. “I think losing the title to Manchester City in the last minute of the season last year really grated and he set out to put that right.
    “United always go out to win the game, home or away, and this season they’ve proved it. They’ve won the league by a huge margin and I think, with that achieved, Sir Alex decided it was the right time to step aside. United have certainly picked a good man to replace him.”
     
    Released on behalf of the HKFC Citbank International Soccer Sevens by Two Up Front – Asia's sports PR specialists.

  • Hong Kong, 21 May 2013 -

    Fans are being urged to buy their Soccer Sevens tickets in advance to avoid the disappointment of not being able to gain entry.
    Strong ticket sales point to the tournament being close to capacity, especially on Sunday when the knockout matches are played.
    “The level of interest in the tournament has never been higher,” confirmed Soccer Sevens chairman Tony Bratsanos. “The debut by Manchester City, the return of Newcastle United as defending champions, the first appearance for many years of local giants South China and our strongest ever Masters competition are all contributing factors.
    “We are advising fans to buy their tickets in advance to ensure they can see the tournament. The Hong Kong Football Club stadium has around 2,800 seats plus a limited amount of standing room and the indications already are that we will be close to full.
    “While we have always allowed fans to pay on the day and we understand there is a walk-up culture among football supporters, we are urging them to purchase in advance to avoid disappointment.”
    All spectators are allowed into the Soccer Sevens for free on Friday, while all children under the age of 16 are admitted free of charge throughout the tournament. Tickets for Saturday and Sunday cost $160 per day or $300 for a weekend pass.
    Tickets can be purchased online at Ticketflap or in person at Hong Kong Football Club, 3 Sports Road, Happy Valley, or Laxton Events, 1604-5 The Broadway, 54-62 Lockhart Road, Wanchai. The ticketing enquiries hotline is 3579 8088.
     
    Released on behalf of the HKFC Citbank International Soccer Sevens by Two Up Front – Asia's sports PR specialists.

  • Hong Kong, 21 May 2013 -

    Hot and humid conditions greeted the 640 players competing in the HKFC Citibank Junior Soccer Sevens last weekend, but the action was just as sizzling. Players aged nine to 13, representing 16 clubs from across Hong Kong, delivered 20 hours of breathless football from 08:00 to 18:00 each day at Hong Kong Football Club.
    Teams finishing third and fourth in each qualifying pool still had something to play for in Bowl or Shield competitions and by Sunday night the following winners were celebrating:
    -- U10 Shield: HKFC1
    -- U10 Bowl: Kitchee
    -- U11 Shield: Asia Pacific Soccer Schools 1
    -- U11 Bowl: Chelsea Soccer Schools
    -- U12 Shield: KCC
    -- U12 Bowl: HKFC 2
    -- U13 Shield: Asia Pacific Soccer Schools
    -- U13 Bowl: Tai Tam Tigers
    The top two teams in each group qualified for Cup quarter-final places with the big incentive being the opportunity to play in Cup or Plate finals in front of a packed HKFC stadium at this weekend’s Soccer Sevens. And the knockout stages set up some enticing final encounters with several new clubs winning their place on the big stage as well as some old foes facing off:
    SATURDAY, 25 MAY
    15:40 to 16:40
    -- U10 Plate final: Chelsea Soccer Schools v HK Football Academy
    -- U11 Plate final: HK Football Academy v ESF Lions
    -- U12 Plate final: HK Dragons v Chelsea Soccer Schools
    -- U13 Plate final: Kitchee v Brasil Top Skills
    SUNDAY, 26 MAY
    12:40 to 13:10
    -- U10 Cup final: Tai Tam Tigers v Asia Pacific Soccer Schools
    -- U11 Cup final: Kitchee v Tai Tam Tigers
    17:00 to 17:30
    -- U12 Cup final: HKFC v HK Football Academy
    -- U13 Cup final: HK Football Academy v Chelsea Soccer Schools
    “It was a long and hot weekend but it was fantastic to see the Club pitch hosting such great junior soccer action,” said Chris Plowman, chairman of HKFC Junior Soccer and Junior Soccer Sevens tournament director.
    “All the players played their part in making it our best tournament yet, not least the girls teams from HKFC and HK Football Academy who both put in gritty performances against some tough opposition. Of course, it’s not all over by any means, with eight finals to come this weekend during the Soccer Sevens, along with the Crusaders and U14 girls exhibition matches. I can’t wait!”
     
    Released on behalf of the HKFC Citbank International Soccer Sevens by Two Up Front – Asia's sports PR specialists.

  • Hong Kong, 20 May 2013 -

    Four Hong Kong First Division clubs will go in search of Soccer Sevens glory this week as the tournament welcomes the strongest contingent of local professional teams in its history.
    The four – league champions South China plus BC Rangers, Citizen and Southern – will be joined by a Hong Kong Football Association age-group representative team, the Dragons.
    The tournament offers the five teams a golden chance to compete against top young players from overseas, with youth and academy sides from Manchester City, Newcastle United, Aston Villa, Sunderland, Leicester City and Scottish giants Rangers taking part.
    “The HKFA is committed to supporting the Soccer Sevens as a high-profile tournament that not only provides a wonderful weekend of entertainment for fans but also gives local players the chance to test themselves against elite overseas opposition,” said HKFA CEO Mark Sutcliffe.
    “In this regard, it is fantastic to see some of the most famous clubs in England and Scotland coming to compete and I am especially pleased that we have five official teams – four First Division clubs plus the HKFA Dragons – entered in the Main draw.”
    Southern were the final First Division club to confirm their participation yesterday and they will go into Group B of the Main draw where their opponents will include defending champions Newcastle.
    The Soccer Sevens has been won by just two Hong Kong teams since it was first held in 1999. Instant-Dict defeated Chelsea in 2000 while Kitchee beat Celtic two years ago.
     
    Released on behalf of the HKFC Citbank International Soccer Sevens by Two Up Front – Asia's sports PR specialists.

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