West Ham began the 20th edition of the annual seven-a-side competition with wins over HKFC Captain’s Select and London rivals Fulham before playing out a goalless draw against Portuguese debutants Portimonense in Group A at Hong Kong Football Club.
Sunday’s meeting with Brighton is the first step towards finally lifting the Main Cup trophy after final defeats by Atletico Madrid in 2015 and Aston Villa in 2016.
“I think we’ve got a chance of winning it this year. We’ve got a really good squad, a really good bunch of players and I think we can actually go out and win it,” said Adarkwa.
“We’re very happy, we’ve put our bodies on the line, worked really hard and got the results we wanted to get. We’ve still got another gear to go.”
Defending champions Newcastle United topped Group C after following up back-to-back wins against Hong Kong’s Kerry Yau Yee League Select and Japan’s Kashima Antlers with a goalless draw against Brighton, who progressed in second place.
Newcastle, who next take on Portimonense in the last eight, are aiming to become the first team to defend their title since Aston Villa won the tournament in 2007 and 2008.
“We set our sights on topping the group and we’ve done that so we’re happy,” said midfielder Matt Longstaff.
“In possession we can create more chances even though in the next rounds there’ll be better teams. Overall, if we carry on what we’ve done we should get success.”
Wolverhampton Wanderers edged Rangers to top spot in Group D following a 1-0 sudden death play-off victory after the sides finished level on points and goal difference.
The teams had earlier played out a goalless draw and beaten both Hong Kong Football Club and HKFA Red Dragons, before Ryan Giles scored the all-important goal in the play-off to earn Wolves a last eight meeting with Hong Kong Premier League side Kitchee.
“It’s been great out here, we didn’t expect the support we’ve had and it’s been a fantastic experience,” said Giles.
“We’re looking to go as far as we can and we’ve topped the group on our first time here, so who knows. We dug deep, did well and deserved to seal it in the last game.”
In the Masters competition, two-time winners Citi All Stars advanced to the semi-finals as Group A winners after defeating defending champions TDW Discovery Bay 1-0 in their final game to ensure they and Nottingham Forest Mobsters progressed to the Cup semi-finals.
“We’ve come out of a real tough group; we’re no stranger to the semi-finals so we know what’s expected and it would be really nice to get to the final,” said striker Jamie Cureton ahead of Sunday’s semi-final against playonpro.
Wallsend Boys Club finished top of Group B after a 1-0 victory over playonpro saw them finish above the star-studded side by virtue of goal difference to set up last four meeting with Nottingham Forest Mobsters.