Academy. Bondswell bidding to scoop Hong Kong gong

26 May 23

Newcastle United Under-21s kick off their Hong Kong Citi Soccer Sevens campaign on Saturday and captain Matt Bondswell is hoping the young Magpies can retain their crown for a third successive time.

The young Magpies, who won the last two competitions in 2018 and 2019 before the tournament was curtailed for three years due to the Coronavirus outbreak, will compete in Group C of the seven-a-side tournament at the Hong Kong Football Club Stadium.

United begin the second defence of their title on Saturday, 27th May against Hong Kong Football Club (kick-off 10.08am HKT) before facing HKFC Captain’s Select (kick-off 12.07pm HKT) and fellow English side Leicester City (kick-off 1.32pm HKT) and Bondswell, who featured for the Magpies’ first-team during pre-season friendlies against Benfica, Atalanta and Athletic Club, is determined to bring the Main Cup back to Tyneside.

The Nottingham-born left-back told “We’re really looking forward to it. We know, even though there hasn’t been a Soccer Sevens tournament for four years, we are coming here as reigning champions and we want to do the same as the other lads have done in the past.

“We want to win the tournament. Ultimately, that's what we've come here to try and do. Although we want to enjoy ourselves, we want to make sure we play well and win the trophy. That is the end goal. The preparation has been different. We’ve been working towards this competition for quite a while and feel prepared.”

“The teams are going to be different to what we’ve been used to playing against and even Leicester. It’s not an 11-a-side tournament, it’s a 7-a-side game and we’re going to have different experiences and adapt to certain things but we are looking forward to the test and confident we can do quite well.”

Bondswell admitted himself and the squad have enjoyed their first days in Hong Kong and have embraced the anomalous climate and surroundings in preparation for this weekend’s competition in the Happy Valley.

The 21-year-old, who joined the Magpies from Bundesliga outfit RB Leipzig in March 2021, added: “We’ve enjoyed the first couple of days. It is everybody’s first time over here in Hong Kong and when we first landed, we explored the city and we were overwhelmed by it, the bright lights and we were surprised of how busy it was. We landed on Wednesday evening in Hong Kong and weren’t in the city until late but everywhere was still very lively.

“It’s definitely different. The heat is something we’re all going to have to deal with along with playing on an astro turf pitch. We’ve been getting used to that during this morning's session and we’ll have another tomorrow to work on the tactical side of things to get prepared for our games."

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