Ahead of tomorrow’s Playoff between Lynx and Olympique, we caught up with Lynx and Gibraltar midfielder Jeremy Lopez for his thoughts on both the game, and the new HGP ruling.
Photo (C) C Correa Photography
After finishing sixth last season, Lynx haven’t had the same success this time out, finishing ninth and going through a succession of managers in this time – Lopez notes the poor start which hurt them: “Unfortunately we did not have the best of starts under Mr Bula who found himself with a new pool of ‘unknown’ foreign players. With Mr Bula’s departure saw the team being restructured by the boss Albert Parody. Half of the team was released and new players were signed. The management restructure and the addition of better players improved things for us. We have suffered due to a very poor start of the season. If you look at our more recent results you can see that we can match any top team in the league, we even beat last year’s Champions Europa FC 2-1, reducing their chances of winning the league.”
Lynx have been without their club captain Robert Guilling for most of the season, with the 37-year old suffering a serious injury that has made him sit out most of this campaign. Lopez notes that the team has missed the Gibraltarian midfielder, but also that others have stepped up in his absence: “Robert Guilling, the club captain has been instrumental to Lynx Fc. I have played along Robert for about 11 years in the Gibraltar National squad; he is a top player who can influence a team with his contagious work ethic and determination on & off the pitch. Robert has been greatly missed by the team but I do not feel that his absence has affected the team. Badr & Chuky, the current captains have definitely stepped up to the plate.”
last game, Lynx beat a depleted, de-motivated Manchester side 9-0 in their final game before going down to the Second Division – the match against Olympique will determine whether Lynx suffer the same fate as their opponents last week: “Olympique have very good players who can easily play in the Premier division, and they have proved this by obtaining positive results in their respective league. In terms of Olympique being a ‘harder challenge’ than Manchester, definitely but only because of the nature of the competition. I believe we have a more resilient team and on paper we should win, but we should not underestimate our opponents. One final match will decide whether we remain in first division or whether we get relegated to second division, football can be very unpredictable at times especially during finals. Having said that, we have been working tremendously hard in training and we are currently on good form. I feel positive going into tomorrow’s game and I strongly believe we will get the job done!”
The new HGP rules introduced this week by the GFA will see more local players on the field of play across the leagues, and for many was a largely overdue move – Lopez sees the positives to it but also has a word of caution: “I feel this is a positive move made by the GFA. This will certainly improve the level of local players which in turn will aid develop the Gibraltar National Squad. A larger group of players will now be available for selection because of the new HGP Rules. However, I feel clubs will struggle obtaining six local players who can perform at the required first division standard. Most of the Gibraltarian players have full-time work commitments, which affects them from attending all training sessions/matches as per the high demands from the clubs.”