Leicester City's Development Squad

Valuable Experience For Young Foxes In Hong Kong

Members of Leicester City’s Development Squad took on a schedule of tough competition at HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens late last month, ending the week as Shield runners-up.
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Following the conclusion of the 2022/23 Premier League 2 season, 11 of the squad, coached by Ben Petty, headed out to East Asia for the seven-a-side tournament played out amid sweltering conditions in Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay district.

Two days of practice matches and training helped adjust to the change in time zone and rules – including playing seven-minute halves with no offsides – as well as the extreme heat and conditions, with humidity levels close to 100 per cent and temperatures regularly above 30 degrees Celsius across the week.

Staged beneath the picturesque setting of the Hong Kong skyline at Hong Kong Football Club for the first time since 2019, the youngsters competed in a group format on Saturday, before the knockout stages took place on Sunday.

Paired with Main Cup holders Newcastle United, as well as hosts Hong Kong FC and HKFC Captain’s Select, Leicester managed to qualify from Group C as pool winners.

Drawing 0-0 with Captain’s Select in match one, City then put Hong Kong FC to the sword, triumphing 3-0 with a goal from Wanya Marcal-Madivadua and Tawanda Maswanhise’s quick-fire brace.

A dramatic comeback victory over the Magpies in the final group game, including Maswanhise’s third of the tournament and Lewis Brunt’s stunning last-minute winner, ensured top spot in the group for the Foxes.

On day two, however, City endured a frustrating quarter-final against Hong Kong Premier League outfit Tai Po, who claimed a 1-0 victory in the extended 20-minute games played during the knockout rounds.

That led Leicester into the Shield competition, facing off against fellow PL2 side Fulham in the last-four tie. First-half strikes from Joe Wormleighton and Kasey McAteer put City in a commanding position but Brunt’s red card at the start of the second period allowed the Cottagers a potential route back into the game.

Leicester stood strong, though, claiming a third clean sheet and a place in the Shield Final, where they would once again come up against Newcastle.

The North East outfit took the lead in front of a packed-out, partisan crowd, with support for both sides as well as plenty of local fans providing a carnival atmosphere at the 2,750-capacity arena. And they were soon off their seats once more.

City moved level courtesy of a superb solo goal from Deniche Hill, taking the game to extra-time Golden Goal. There were four minutes to score a winner, but just four players each to do so.

It was Newcastle who found the finish and claimed the Shield. A cruel end to Leicester’s quest for silverware, with the Foxes having to settle for runners-up medals.

Speaking ahead of the event’s closing ceremony, Petty reflected on how the competition played out: “I hope they take this experience, not only in football but in life as well. They're all going to take things away. I've just said to the lads, it has been a really tough season, but we need to take the positives out of it and learn and come back stronger.”

City’s Soccer Sevens Squad: Young, Odunze, Wormleighton, Brunt (c), Godsmark-Ford, Hill, McAteer, Cover, Marcal-Madivadua, Pennant, Maswanhise.

Goalscorers: Maswanhise (3), Marcal-Madivadua, Brunt, Wormleighton, McAteer, Hill.

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