U21s reach semi-finals

by Stuart Vose

All the action from the conclusion of Hong Kong Soccer Sevens.

A Sunderland U21 side were eliminated in the semi-finals of the Hong Kong Soccer Sevens on Sunday.

A record of one win, one draw and one defeat in Saturday's group stage saw the Black Cats face South China in the last eight.

Coach Kevin Ball saw his side run out 2-1 winners in a close game played out in searing heat and humidity.

Leicester City were next up and the game saw Sunderland slip to a narrow 1-0 defeat against the Foxes, who defeated Newcastle United 2-0 in the final to lift the trophy.

Ball, who saw his side reach the same stage last year, told safc.com: “We did very well to get through and played really well in the game against South China.

“Against Leicester I felt we had opportunities before they scored their goal, but they got stronger and credit to them. We didn't take the chances that came our way.”

A ten-man squad travelled to Hong Kong and Ball says everyone involved will be a better player for the experience.

“In terms of development this has been a fantastic trip,” he said.

“The lads have had to acclimatise to a different environment and going away from home.

“I think people underestimate how hot and humid it is here – you're sweating like crazy even walking from the hotel to the ground.

“The tournament is a fabulous thing to be involved with – a challenge, and if you want to become a footballer you have to take on these challenges.”