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Kitchee on Course for Treble After Sapling Cup Win

Kitchee lift Sapling Cup. Photo by Ken Wu

Kitchee are on course for another treble winning season after a last gasp 2-1 win over Tai Po in the Sapling Cup final on May 19th at Hong Kong stadium.

The goals came late as the Hong Kong Premier League winner’s Pedreira’s scored in the 85th and 89th minutes to all but secure the win despite an injury time goal from Leung Kwun Chung to make the score 2-1. Tai Po have a chance for revenge as the two sides will meet again for the FA Cup final.

Newcastle United Win Hong Kong Soccer Sevens Main Competition

In baking hot and humid conditions, Newcastle United won the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens title for the first time since 2012 as the English Premier League club secured a 1-0 win in sudden-death extra-time over Scotland’s Glasgow Rangers. Newcastle’s Callum Roberts broke Ranger’s hearts after scoring the winning goal midway through the four-minute four-on-four tie-breaker period after the final finished scoreless after two 10-minute halves as the team from St James’s Park claimed the club’s second HKFC CitiSoccer Sevens title. A dramatic end to a very close game in which both teams went for the win.

After three days of games and endless action and goals in extremely hot conditions, the final results were the following: In the main plate final, the Newcastle Jets defeated the the YY League Select 2-0, in the main shield final, Aston Villa beat West Ham United 2-1 with a sudden death goal while in the Masters Cup final, DBFC defeated long term visitors Nottingham Forest Mobsters.

The tournament is seen as the chance for many youth sides to gain greater experience. The HKFA Red Dragons had an decent run in the tournament and player, Christopher Chung reflected on the positives of the tournament for him and his team.

Leicester City (in blue) vs HKFA Red Dragons (in red) during the Main Tournament match, part of the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens 2018 at Hong Kong Football Club on 19 May 2018, in Hong Kong, Hong Kong. Photo by Yu Chun Christopher Wong / Power Sport Images

“The tournament proved to be a good challenge for us. As we were a young team, the tournament gave us a lot of experience and we intend to build on our performance in future tournaments. We were unable to qualify for the cup, however we made it through to the plate semi finals. This meant we got to play five games against some very high quality premier league and A-league sides.”

The quality of the teams and the higher standard of play also allowed the HKFA Red Dragons to raise their game and be competitive.

“The standard these teams brought to the game forced us to play smarter football both on and off the ball. It was also a very good physical battle for us and gives us a good indication of where we want to be in the future.”

Mark Hampson, youth football coach, gave his opinions on the tournament as a stepping stone for youth players to gain more experience.

“Yes, I do think it is true that the Hong Kong Soccer Sevens is seen as a chance for young players from overseas to gain experience playing top level teams at the tournament and we have seen success in this as we have seen players like Jack Grealish and Ashley Young coming through the soccer sevens and reaching the international level.”

Shane Jeffrey, who took the field for one of the HKFC teams, gave his opinion on how the soccer sevens could improve in the future in terms of attracting even more big name clubs.

“It’s a difficult question to answer as I imagine it’s quite a process to contact European clubs and get them to see the benefits of playing in this tournament. Last year I believe Olympique Marseille, Cagliari Calcio and bayer Leverkusen were the first french, Italian and German clubs that attended and I assumed it would continue this year but only Cagliari returned. I think to create even more interest, one of the top 6 EPL teams will have to come but that will create its own issues around planning.”

Jeffrey went onto share how the tournament could be promoted more widely in the weeks prior to the competition.

“It is a great event but I remember from my first year in Hong Kong that I was fairly unaware of the event until it had already happened. Perhaps some events around Hong Kong prior to the tournament to help create greater awareness including advertising the fact that some of the players who have attended in the past have gone on to have quite successful careers in Europe.”

Photos from the Soccer Sevens

Photo credits: Ryan Kam, Queenie Lau, CM Chui

The Role of Hong Kong in China’s Football Dream Panel Discussion

Panel discussion on football in Hong Kong and China.

On Sunday, May 20, the Hong Kong Sociology Association and Commercial Press invited to a talk on Hong Kong football in Tsim Sha Tsui. Tobias Zuser, guest lecturer at Education University and a fellow of Nottingham University’s China Soccer Observatory, explained the historical context of the relationship between Chinese and Hong Kong football development. He was joined by HKFA Grassroots Manager Sam Bensley who emphasized the significance to put the young players in the centre of these debates and how institutions and society should provide more supportive structures for their training needs, both in China and Hong Kong.

The talk was moderated by Dr. Lawrence Ho, who previously conducted a study on the naturalization of players in the Hong Kong representative team.

Christopher KL Lau was born in England and grew up in both England and Hong Kong, and has a background in media, education and non-profits. He also is a freelance writer / photographer and has written for a number of magazines, websites and newspapers around the world on many subjects ranging from the arts to travel. Chris is passionate about sports and its place in society and is keen to promote both Hong Kong and Chinese football to a wider audience.

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