Villa Facing Fresh Challenge From Old Foes

, Hong Kong (PressExposure) May 13, 2009 -- Aston Villa will face a new challenge to their supremacy at the 2009 HKFC IP Global International Soccer Sevens – from fierce local rivals Birmingham City. Villa will be going for their third Cup victory in a row – and fifth overall – when the tournament is held at Hong Kong Football Club from May 29-31.

But they will face stiff opposition from city rivals Birmingham, newly promoted to the English Premier League and now making their debut in the Soccer Sevens. The arch-rivals were paired together in Pool C when the tournament draw was held at Hong Kong Football Club today (May 12).

It sets the scene for a mouth-watering showdown between Villa and Birmingham on the second day of the tournament. Hong Kong side Citizens and Singapore Cricket Club are the other two teams in Pool C.

Villa youth academy director Bryan Jones says his team are looking forward to the tournament.

“Aston Villa are delighted to be taking part in the Soccer Sevens competition again this year,” he said.

“It will be a good opportunity for our young players to gain some valuable experience and I know one or two of last year’s squad are keen to try and retain the trophy this time around.”

West Ham United have also been confirmed for the showpiece together with Scottish giants Celtic and Rangers.

West Ham will be favourites to top Pool B at the expense of the Australian U18s national team, Sheffield FC and the Hong Kong Football Club Captain’s Select. Rangers, meanwhile, will need to overcome one of China’s top teams, Chengdu Blades, in Pool A.

Since it was first held in 1999, the tournament – sanctioned by the Hong Kong Football Association – has developed into the world’s premier seven-a-side soccer event. The Main competition has become famous for unearthing the “stars of tomorrow” while the Masters section features former elite players from Europe’s top leagues.

All eyes in this year’s Masters competition will be on the IP Global All Stars, who will feature Nottingham Forest and England great Des Walker. Walker was one of the finest defenders of his era and won 59 caps in a distinguished career.

He will be joined by former England internationals Rob Lee, Mark Walters, Chris Powell and goalkeeper Dave Beasant. Former Rangers and Scotland striker Gordon Durie will also be in the squad together with ex-West Ham and Northern Ireland midfielder Steve Lomas.

The GAC Blades will feature former Sheffield United favourites, including the club’s famed strike pairing of Brian Deane – another England international – and Tony Agana. Making a guest appearance for the Blades will be one of China’s greatest players, Ma Mingyu, who earned 73 caps and played club football for Perugia in Italy.

In addition, the Hood All Stars and Southampton Veterans will also have former Premier League players. “The Soccer Sevens gives football fans the best of both worlds – the stars of tomorrow in the Main competition and some of the greats of yesteryear in the Masters,” said organising committee chairman Tony Bratsanos.

“Both competitions deliver top class entertainment and we’re looking forward to what promises to be three days of fantastic football.” The Soccer Sevens has been given added spice with the unveiling of a new trophy donated by the title sponsors, Hong Kong-based international property company IP Global.

Another innovation this year will see a new tournament mascot – a cuddly dragon – keeping fans entertained throughout the weekend. A competition to name the mascot has been launched and details can be found at the official website, http://www.hksoccersevens.com.

A total of 32 teams will take part in the Soccer Sevens, 16 in the Main competition and 16 in the Masters. Each competition will feature a pool round followed by knockout games for the Cup, Shield and Plate (in the Main) and Cup and Plate (in the Masters).

Play will take place from 6:00pm to 8:30pm on Friday, May 29; from 8:00am to 8:00pm on Saturday, May 30; and from 8:00am to 7:00pm on Sunday, May 31.

Entry on May 29 is free for all spectators, while all children under the age of 16 are allowed in free throughout the tournament. Adult tickets will cost HK$200 for two days (May 30 and May 31 sold together) or HK$120 for one day.

Tickets can be bought via http://www.hksoccersevens.com or through Laxton Marketing Consultants (Tel: 2866 3110), or they can be purchased at the public entrance during the tournament.

Before the tournament kicks off, two more big names will be appearing at the eve-of-event Sportsman’s Dinner at Hong Kong Football Club at 7pm on Thursday, May 28.

Former top-flight manager Lawrie McMenemy, who famously guided Southampton to FA Cup glory in 1976, will be the guest speaker while current Premier League referee Mike Riley will also be giving his views on the game.

Tickets are $700 per person or $7,000 for a table of 12. Bookings can be made through Laxton Marketing Consultants (Tel: 2866 3110) or by emailing amy@laxtonmarketing.com.

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Press Release Submitted On: May 13, 2009 at 2:36 am
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