Aston Villa in seventh heaven with record

HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens win


HONG KONG, 28 May 2023 – Aston Villa secured a record-extending seventh HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens title on Sunday as the Premier League outfit defeated Hong Kong’s Tai Po FC 3-0 at a packed Hong Kong Football Club to claim the trophy for the first time since 2016.



Omari Kellyman scored twice in the first half before Lee Ka-ho’s red card for a foul on the 17-year-old left Tai Po short-handed, with Frankie Ealing hitting his side’s third ahead of Luizinho’s late sending off, which saw the Hong Kong side finish the game with five players.



“At the start of the tournament we had a disappointing result against Tai Po, so to bounce back and win all the games after that hasn’t been an easy thing to do,” said Kellyman, who ended as the tournament’s leading scorer with five goals.



“But we did it and I’m proud of the boys. It’s been a great experience. The tournament has been all about experience and to come out here and play the game I love has been great.



“The physical side of the game, the heat is very different from England. Coming out here, you’ve got to run the hard yards and do everything to the best of your ability. It’s been great.”



Tai Po had pulled off a surprise 1-0 win over Villa in the group meeting between the teams on Saturday but there was to be no repeat of that result as the Premier League side raced into an early lead.



Kellyman gave Villa the perfect start when he bent the opener into the top corner with less than two minutes on the clock and, five minutes later, he doubled the advantage with another strike from outside the area, steering a low left-foot shot beyond Tse Ka Wing.



Lee’s clumsy attempt to halt Kellyman in the ninth minute saw him receive a direct red card and Villa exploited their advantage, with Ealing netting his side’s third from close range after a miss-hit attempted clearance by Tse.



Luizinho received a second yellow card seven minutes into the second half to leave Tai Po with only five players and effectively ensure Villa were crowned champions once again.



Earlier in the day, defending champions Newcastle United crashed out in the quarter-finals, losing 2-0 to Aston Villa, who took on Kitchee in the last four after the Hong Kong Premier League champions had seen off Queens Park Rangers.



Tai Po, meanwhile, notched up a 1-0 win over Leicester City to set up a semi-final meeting with Brighton & Hove Albion following their 1-0 win over fellow Premier League club Fulham.



The Hong Kong Premier League outfit eliminated Brighton & Hove Albion in a penalty shoot-out as Villa beat Kitchee to set-up the decider, with the English club ultimately emerging victorious.



In the Masters Event, defending champions Wallsend Boys Club retained the title with a 2-1 sudden-death extra-time win over 2018 winners Ampcontrol Discovery Bay in the final, with Kim Dong-jin netting the winner.



Wallsend had seen off Rio Cricket Association Athletic to advance to the final for the second tournament in a row while Ampcontrol Discovery Bay defeated Hong Kong Football Club Masters to progress to the decider.



The HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens was played out in front of bumper crowds at the Hong Kong Football Club for the first time since 2019 after the event was forced to take a three-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.



“The 2023 HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens has been a resounding success and I would like to thank all of our sponsors, the teams, Hong Kong Football Club members and the fans who turned out in fantastic numbers to support this very special event,” said Hong Kong Football Club Chairman Neil Jensen.



“It has been an honour for HKFC to be able to play a role in the return of high quality sport to Hong Kong after the pandemic and we hope through future editions we can continue to showcase the positive qualities of our unique city and its love for this remarkable game.”



( Information and photo source: Ludus Concepts / HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens )


Leicester City advance as champions

Newcastle United squeeze through


HONG KONG, 27 May 2023 – Title holders Newcastle United squeezed into the knockout rounds of the 2023 HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens on Saturday as Leicester City won the battle between the tournament’s previous champions to advance to the quarter-finals as winners of Group C.



Leicester, who claimed the trophy in 2013 and 2017, notched up a 2-1 victory over Newcastle to maintain their unbeaten start to the competition after a 0-0 draw with Hong Kong Football Club Captain’s Select was followed by a 3-0 win over Hong Kong Football Club.



Newcastle finished second in the group with four points, pipping Hong Kong Football Club to second by virtue of a better goal difference to set up a meeting with Group A winners, Aston Villa, in the next round. Leicester will take on Tai Po in Sunday’s quarter-finals.



“Winning the group was really important because whoever finished second is going to have a tough opponent tomorrow,” said Leicester City’s Harvey Godsmark-Ford. “It’s been a bit tough with the weather but we’re buzzing.



“That was the perfect way to go through. Everyone’s happy going into the next stage of the tournament. We’ll get in the pool after this game, have a massage, keep hydrated and get an early night to be ready for tomorrow.”



Hong Kong Premier League champions Kitchee clinched top spot in Group B and will play Group D runners-up Queens Park Rangers in the next round as Alex Chu’s team earned a 1-1 draw with Fulham to secure first place on goal difference.



“The weather has obviously played a part in the game but we were just not clinical enough for my liking,” Fulham captain Terry Ablade said. “We’ve got a good team and we know we can go far but when we get our chances we need to take them.



“We’re looking to win every game so we can go all the way to the final and then we’ll look to win that as well.”



Brighton & Hove Albion advanced as winners of Group D with two wins and a draw to finish two points clear of second-placed QPR and set up their quarter-final meeting with Fulham.



Tai Po notched up a 1-0 win over Aston Villa in their first match before the Premier League side recovered to win Group A while Tai Po sealed a berth in the quarter-finals by holding Scottish side Rangers to a 0-0 draw in the final game of the evening.



In the Masters Tournament, former champions Citi All Stars were eliminated, losing out on a place in the next round as Hong Kong Football Club Masters and Rio Cricket Association Athletic took the top two spots in Group B to advance to the next phase.



Title holders Wallsend Boys Club, meanwhile, won against Hong Kong Football Club Chairman’s Select and Singapore Cricket Club Masters to top Group A and progress to the next round alongside Ampcontrol Discovery Bay.



Wallsend will take on Rio Cricket Association Athletic in Sunday’s semi-finals while Hong Kong Football Club Masters meet Ampcontrol Discovery Bay.



The HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens is returning from a three-year COVID-19 enforced hiatus and underprivileged children from the Chicken Soup and Sprouts Foundations have been hosted by the Hong Kong Football Club at this weekend’s event.



“These kids live in Tai Wai and only know about Tai Wai, so today we are taking them out to experience something outside of that,” said Sprouts’ Kobe Ko.



“They don’t have many opportunities to get out and experience different things, but the world is so big, and there are so many different options for their future that they don’t know about – for example, football player, coach, referee.



“They’ve never seen this, so we want to provide them with exposure to other opportunities other than what they know and see day to day.”



Tickets for the final day of the event are available at, with free entry for children under 16 years old and admission for adults costing HKD$120.



HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens Main Event Quarter-finals



Aston Villa v Newcastle United



Kitchee v Queens Park Rangers



Leicester City v Tai Po



Brighton & Hove Albion v Fulham



HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens Masters Tournament Semi-finals



Wallsend Boys Club v Rio Cricket Association Athletic



Hong Kong Football Club Masters v Ampcontrol Discovery Bay



( Information and photo source: Ludus Concepts / HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens )


Strong start for Citi All Stars as defending champions Wallsend held twice


HONG KONG, 26 May 2023 – Citi All Stars made a strong start to their quest to reclaim the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens Masters Tournament title on Friday as the former champions collected four points to sit in the three-way tie at the top of Group B as the event kicked off for the first time since 2019.



A 0-0 draw with Kowloon Cricket Club Veterans in their opening game at the Hong Kong Football Club was followed by a 1-0 win over Yau Yee League Masters to leave Citi All Stars level with Rio Cricket Association Masters and HKFC Masters at the top of the standings.



The HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens is returning after a four-year absence due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with the Masters Tournament launching the 2023 event on Friday before the Main Event begins on Saturday.



“I’ve played in this tournament a few times and the first game is always the toughest,” said Citi All Stars captain Sean Davis. “Getting your body used to the heat and the conditions is hard, so to come out of it with a 0-0 draw and then to win the second game is great.



“We’re looking forward to tomorrow. It’s a great tournament to be involved in and we want to win it.



“I think we’ve got our two toughest games out of the way and, if it’s hot tomorrow it’s going to be the same for everyone. I finished as a runner-up last time out so I want to go on and win it this time.”



Citi All Stars are attempting to claim the title for the first time since 2017 having lost in the 2019 final against Wallsend Boys Club.



Wallsend, who won the trophy for the first time in 2019 having previously lost twice in the final, started the defence of the title with a 0-0 draw against 2018 winners Ampcontrol Discovery Bay in Group A.



The English club finished off the evening’s play drawing 1-1 with Singapore Football Club Masters and sit in fourth place in Group A.



Ampcontrol Discovery Bay and Singapore Football Club Masters are locked together on top of the Group A standings, with both sides collecting four points from their opening two matches. HKFC Chairman’s Select occupy third place on three points.



Action will resume at 9am on Saturday with the resumption of the Masters Tournament while play in the Main Event, featuring Premier League clubs Newcastle United, Aston Villa, Fulham, Brighton & Hove Albion and Leicester City, will begin and continue until Sunday.



Tickets for the event will be available at with free entry for all on Friday 26 May and free entry for children under 16 years old all weekend. Single day tickets cost HKD$120 and weekend passes are HKD$200.



( Information and photo source: Ludus Concepts / HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens )


Newcastle United eye repeat performance as HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens return

HONG KONG, 25 May 2023 – Victory in the most recent edition of the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens is spurring Newcastle United’s latest crop of young talent towards a repeat of that success four years ago as the tournament makes its long-awaited return at the Hong Kong Football Club this weekend.

The world renowned seven-a-side competition will be held for the first time since 2019 following a three-year Covid-19 enforced hiatus, with the event kicking off on Friday evening with the Masters Tournament and running through until Sunday.

Newcastle are one of five Premier League clubs to feature in the 16-team Main Event, which also includes Scottish Premiership giants Rangers and English Championship side Queens Park Rangers alongside Leicester City, Brighton & Hove Albion, Fulham and Aston Villa.

The St James’ Park-based club defeated Wolverhampton Wanderers in the 2019 final and full back Matt Bondswell is determined the trophy will return to Newcastle when he and his teammates fly back to England on Monday evening.

“We’ve seen the clips from the lads who won it last time out and we know how big the tournament is,” says the 21-year-old.

“And there are going to be a lot of people watching, especially Newcastle fans. They’ll be supporting us, and we’ve seen the celebrations that come with winning it and that’s given us motivation.

“We’re looking forward to the games on Saturday and, hopefully, Sunday as well.”

The unique format of the competition, which sees seven-a-side teams face off over two seven-minute halves, has prompted Bondswell and his team mates to adapt their training in preparation for their appearance at Sports Road.

“It’s something we’ve been working on for a while, as soon as our season was finished,” he says. “We’ve been preparing for tournament scenarios so now we just need to adjust to the heat. Hopefully the football will look after itself.

“There’s loads of things that are different, and one of the big ones is there’s no offside and that’s something that defensively and going forward you have to be aware of.

“It’s going to be the same for everyone, but there are things you need to be aware of, such as the size of the pitch, the heat and the environment.”

Newcastle have been drawn in Group C alongside Leicester City, Hong Kong Football Club and HKFC Captain’s Select while six-time champions Aston Villa headline Group A, which also includes Rangers, Tai Po FC and the Yau Yee Select.

Group B features Fulham, Hong Kong Premier League champions Kitchee, MUST CPK and Singapore Football Club, while Brighton & Hove Albion, QPR, Singapore Cricket Club and Hong Kong, China U22 Representative Team round out the Main Event line-up in Group D.

Brighton & Hove Albion will be among those attempting to deny Newcastle a successful defence of their title and Jack Hinchy is confident his team can add to a landmark week for the club after the Premier League side qualified for the UEFA Europa League on Wednesday.

“Just like any event, we’ve come here to try and win it and that’s what we’re hoping to do and playing the way we want to play, regardless of who else is here,” says the 20-year-old midfielder. “The main aim is to win.

“Since Roberto de Zerbi came in as manager a lot has changed with the club’s style of play, but we’ve been implementing it in the league, in 11-a-side back home, and we’ll try and implement part of that into this tournament too.

“But we know it’s a different game and we’ll have to play slightly differently. Qualification for the Europa League shows the direction we’re now going and the future’s looking good for us as a club.”

The Masters Tournament will begin proceedings at the 2023 HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens, with games being played on 26 May, before the Main Event kicks off the following day. Matches run throughout until 28 May.

Tickets for the event will be available at with free entry for all on Friday 26 May and free entry for children under 16 years old all weekend. Single day tickets cost HKD$120 and weekend passes are HKD$200.


( Information and photo source: Ludus Concepts / HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens )


Aston Villa setting sights on seventh title as HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens returns

HONG KONG, 22 May 2023 – Six times champions Aston Villa will travel to Hong Kong for the 2023 edition of the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens looking to reclaim the title the club last won in 2016 while showcasing the latest crop of youngsters to emerge from one of the Premier League’s finest academies.

Coach Dan Green will bring his squad to Hong Kong Football Club targeting the Villa Park outfit’s seventh title as the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens returns on May 26 for the first time since 2019 following an enforced hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Villa have been drawn in Group A alongside Scottish Premiership side Rangers, runners-up the last time the event was held, as well as Tai Po FC and Yau Yee League Select and Green is relishing the opportunity to take to the field at Sports Road once again.

“The reputation of the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens and the experiences that we as a club have had in the past create great excitement for the competition and the opportunities that it provides,” says Green.

“We are constantly looking to stretch and challenge our players and this tournament certainly provides a high quality and varied set of challenges.

“From the opposition and format to the conditions and fans in the stadium, we feel this is an outstanding way to round off this season with an experience that we hope the players will look back on with great memories.”

Aston Villa have a history of fielding future Premier League stars among their line-up at the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens, with current Manchester City forward Jack Grealish among those to have starred for the club at the event in the past.

Others to have graduated to the senior side include Gabriel Agbonlahor and Barry Bannan, who were named the Player of the Tournament in 2006 and 2008 respectively, and Green will be fielding a side that features players avid English football watchers will recognise.

“We would love to think that all of our players will bring excitement to the fans watching,” he says.

“Some that they may have heard of from their first team involvement would be the likes of Josh Feeney, Omari Kellyman, Travis Patterson, Tommi O'Reilly and Kadan Young, who will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of previous Aston Villa players who have come to the tournament and performed to a high level.”

Newcastle United are the reigning HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens champions and they will face former winners Leicester City in Group C alongside Hong Kong Football Club and the HKFC Captain’s Select.

Group B, meanwhile, features Fulham, Hong Kong Premier League champions Kitchee, MUST CPK and Singapore Football Club and the line-up for the Main Event is completed by Brighton & Hove Albion, Queens Park Rangers, Hong Kong, China U22 Representative Team and Singapore Cricket Club, who will face off in Group D.

“We’re looking forward to going out there, it’s certainly a life experience for the boys,” says Brighton’s under 21 head coach Shannon Ruth. “It’s a tournament we’re eager to do well in, it finishes our season off in a positive way.

“We’re looking to see the players experience something different, seeing how they adapt to the conditions and all the different things that are thrown their way by this tournament.

“It’s a unique tournament in terms of the regulations, the size of the pitch and all the things that come with playing in Hong Kong in the heat and humidity. We’re looking to challenge the players.

“Some of these players wouldn’t have travelled to Hong Kong before and experienced a different culture and that’s certainly an experience you don’t forget.”

The Masters Tournament will kick off proceedings at Sports Road on May 26, with the Citi All Stars looking to reclaim the title in that event after losing out in the 2019 final to Wallsend Boys Club.

Former Fulham midfielder Sean Davis will captain a team selected by the Professional Footballers’ Association that also features ex-Tottenham Hotspur right-back Pascal Chimbonda and Jamie Lawrence, a League Cup winner with Leicester City in 1997.

Play in the Main Event will begin on May 27 with matches running throughout until May 28.

Tickets for the event will be available at with free entry for all on Friday 26 May and free entry for children under 16 years old all weekend. Single day tickets cost HKD$120 and weekend passes are HKD$200.


( Information and photo source: Ludus Concepts / Hong Kong Football Club )