A SELECT group from the Rangers Development Squad will fly to Hong Kong today to take part in the HKFC Soccer Sevens.
The youngsters kick-off their tournament in the group stages on Saturday, taking on Newcastle Jets, Newcastle United and Hong Kong Football Club. The knockout stages take place on Sunday.
The likes of Aston Villa, West Ham United and Italian side Cagliari are also taking part, along with the reigning champions Leicester City. While Premier League Brighton and Hove Albion are making their debut in the competition.
The Development Squad were knocked out by eventual winners Leicester at the semi-final stage last year. But after a successful first season playing in their Games Programme, Head of Academy Craig Mulholland is excited to see what his youngsters can do. The Gers were runners up in both 2009 and 2010.
Speaking to RangersTV ahead of the trip Mulholland said: “We have been the last few years now and first and foremost there is a huge Rangers fan base out in Hong Kong.
“People realise the size of the club and the number of supporters who come along to the Hong Kong football club to see us is great.
“The boys have had a great season and they are really looking forward to going out there. Culturally for them to go and see a different city like that is great for them but as a football experience the games are quite different as well.
“It is seven v seven, 18 yards to 18 yards and if you get a draw at the end of the game they take it down to four v four, 18 yards to 18 yards.
“In that heat and humidity it is really demanding for the players. It is against top opposition and it is a great experience for them.
“We were down playing Leicester a few weeks ago and they are taking their Under 23 group, as well as some fringe first-team players so it is really competitive.
“Last year we got to the semi-finals against Leicester and we were unlucky not to get through to the final.”
It will be Rangers first trip to the tournament since the implementation of the club’s Games Programme. This season they have faced sides from across Europe and the Premier League and Mulholland thinks that should mean this squad fare better.
Want to know how to watch the Gers in Hong Kong?
We’ll post links to all the Development Squad’s games right here on rangers.co.uk
He continued: “There are two aspects to this, one how much we have progressed against those sides we took on last year and we will look to get further and get to the final.
“And two, there has been a real change this year with the Games Programme so when we played foreign opposition before and English Premier League opposition you could see there was a little bit of an inferiority complex from the Scottish lads.
“I think by playing so many times this year against top teams from different countries we have overcome that.
“An example would be that we are really disappointed to lose 3-2 to Manchester United and of course people are saying it is good we have got to that because losing by the odd goal to Manchester United is something we don’t expect.
“I think the results against the likes of Manchester City, Feyenoord, Leicester City, AK Athens and Bayern Munich has taken away any inhibitions the boys have in terms of playing quality opposition.”
RANGERS TRAVELLING PARTY
Aidan McAdams, Andy Dallas, Scott Gray, Jack Thomson, Jamie Barjonas, Cammy Palmer, Jordan Houston, Stephen Kelly, Kyle Bradley, Liam Burt.