Aston Villa lifted the 17th HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens Cup with a 100 per cent win record in the 2016 edition of the competition.
In front of a packed Hong Kong Football Club, the West Midlands side defeated West Ham United in a hard-fought final. With first-choice keeper Matija Sarkic exiting the game in the opening minutes with an elbow injury, Villa’s hopes appeared dashed. But thanks to a clean sheet from full-back and replacement keeper Mitch Clark and goals from Harry McKirdy and Rushian Hepburn-Murphy, The Lions came away 2-0 victors.
It’s a silver lining for the Championship-bound side as Gordon Cowans’ U21s came away with the top prize for a record sixth time. With an unbeaten streak and only one goal conceded, it was an impressive show from the boys in claret and blue.
There was an added bonus with forward Harry McKirdy bagging the Golden Boot with six goals over the weekend. “All the boys have been unbelievable; we were the best team here so we deserved what we got,” the 19-year-old said.
Over the three days, local fans were treated to bright displays of talent from Europe, Asia and Oceania’s finest youth systems. There was an English clean sweep of the silverware with Leicester City adding another trophy to their recently redecorated cabinet. The English Premier League champions saw their youth side beat newly-crowned Hong Kong Premier League winners Eastern in an exciting Shield final.
Stoke City F.C. triumphed over Hong Kong Football Association U21s to come away with the Plate.
Tournament debutants FC Seoul gave a strong showing for Asia getting all the way to the Cup semi-final. Japan’s Kashima Antlers, making their first appearance at the Soccer Sevens since 2008, also put in a solid performance bowing out in the Shield semi-final after a dramatic penalty shootout against Leicester.
In the Masters competition, pre-tournament favourites Citi All Stars lived up to their billing defeating 2015 champions USRC in the final.
In a heated contest, it took a strike from ex-Derby County striker Deon Burton and a brace from David Thompson, which included a chip from the halfway line, to overcome a valiant USRC.
“It was unbelievable, one of the best goals I’ve ever scored,” said the former Liverpool and Coventry City midfielder who was named the Masters tournament’s MVP. He added, “I 100% want to come back again next year.”