On a scorching hot weekend between May 17th and 19th, the popular annual Soccer Sevens returned to the Hong Kong Football Club in Happy Valley, where promising youth players from elite Premier League academies went head-to-head in the main tournament, as well as retiring international stars put their playing boots back on to show the crowds how much skills they still retain in the masters tournament. Glories fell to the northeast of England as Newcastle United and Wallsend Boys Club took home the Main Cup and Masters Cup trophies respectively.
As the tournament clashed with the final day of the Premier League, most regular Hong Kong U21 members were not available for selection this year. Nonetheless, the HKFA sent a young team nicknamed “Red Dragons” with most players joining from either 1st Division or Reserve League. The most notable names were Yuen Long’s Lee Oi-hin and Tai Po’s Cheng Tsz-sum. The Red Dragons were drawn into Group D against Wolves from the English Premier League, hosts HKFC and Rangers from the Scottish Premier League. The Red Dragons’ performance improved as the tournament went on, but they recorded three losses, 2:1, 1:0 and 1:0 respectively in the group stage.
Later, the HKFA Red Dragons were drawn with Aston Villa, who came third in Group B, in the Main Plate quarter-final on Sunday morning. Despite Lai Pui-kei and Yuen Sai-kit‘s goals, they fell to a 5:2 defeat to end their, nevertheless, valuable journey.
On the other hand, Kitchee enjoyed a better run at the tournament, only to be beaten at the Main Cup semi-final by eventual winners Newcastle United. A surprise inclusion in the squad would be former youth product Matthew Orr, alongside with four other fellow academy graduates. The Bluewaves first drew with Aston Villa and Leicester City, and then edged past Singapore Cricket Club to come second in Group B. At the Cup quarter-final against Wolves, Yu Yang equalised for Kitchee with a minute remaining in regular time to send the game onto a 4v4 sudden-death extra time, in which Robert found the winner to set up a semi-final with Newcastle United. However, a brace from this season’s English Premier League 2 top scorer Elias Sorensen sunk Kitchee at the semis with a 2:0 win.
Newcastle United went on to retain their Main Cup title, after overcoming a two-goal deficit and edged past Rangers in sudden death with a 4:3 win. The Main Shield was taken up by Wolves, with a 2:1 win over Leicester City. The Main Plate also went to an English team as Aston Villa finished with a 3:0 win over Kerry Yau Yee League Select.
Meanwhile, at the star-studded Masters tournament, Wallsend Boys Club, with Steve Harper, Keith Gillespie and Yuen Long’s Fabio Lopes in their team, lifted the Masters Cup for the first time after beating Citi All Stars. Eleven FC, filled with ex-Hong Kong national team members such as Tam Siu-wai, Lee Chi-ho and Chiu Chung-man, edged past TDW Discovery Bay to be crowned as the Masters Plate winners.
Photos by Christie Leung (an additional photo gallery can be found here)