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Gibraltar National League: Team of the Week

Week 1 results

  • Lynx 5-1 Mons Calpe (Valdivia x2, Bauti, Badr, Marcius; Power OG)
  • Manchester 62 0-0 FC Boca Juniors
  • Lions Gibraltar 0-0 Europa Point
  • Glacis United 0-9 Brunos Magpies (Ford x2, Duarte x2, Assumpcao x2, Nacho, Perez, Fortuna)
  • Europa 4-1 Lincoln Red Imps (Dimas x2, Sanchez, Walker; Gomes)
  • St Joseph’s 7-0 College 1975 (Boro x3, Juanfri x2, Cornejo x2)

GOALKEEPER: Conor O’Keefe (Europa Point)

DEFENDER: Tamupiwa Dimairo (Magpies)

DEFENDER: Jaydan Catania (Man62)

DEFENDER: Jamie Bosio (Lions)

MIDFIELDER: Liam Walker (captain – Europa)

MIDFIELDER: Brian Perez (Magpies)

MIDFIELDER: Carlos Briones (Boca)

MIDFIELDER: Salvador ‘Boro’ Delgado (St Joseph’s)

STRIKER: Juanfri Pena Garcia (St Joseph’s)

STRIKER: Manuel Dimas (Europa)

STRIKER: Alberto Valdivia (Lynx)

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Could this be St Joseph’s season?

After opening up their season with a 7-0 win over College 1975, we take a look at St Joseph’s, and why we think this could finally be their time to break into the top two of the Gibraltar National League.

We know it’s still early days, and anything can happen in football, but there’s something different going on at St Joseph’s which we feel can see them go one step further this season.

For the last two or three seasons now, St Joseph’s have always been needing “two to three top players” to be able to compete with Europa & Lincoln. Thanks to the extra UEL spot which St Joseph’s have achieved twice now, Saints have finally managed to gain the financial resources needed to catapult themselves into fighting for the league title.

Losses in April to both Lincoln & Europa last season would have given head coach Raul Procopio an idea of where to improve and they have done just that. Juanjo Bezares is no stranger to football in Spain, and has put his expertise to good use over the years. John Paul Hendrick has also worked hard to find the right HGP’s needed that would benefit the team.

Francisco Javier Mateo’s excellent display during Saints’ UEL campaign will Jamie Robba on his toes, while the acquistion of the reliable Aymen Mouelhi, partnered up with Fede Villar in the centre with Mauri on the left and Ivan Lobato on the right – you’re looking at a very solid backline, one which Saints have lacked in recent seasons.

Cristian Pecci is someone who doesn’t get as many plaudits as he should, a hard-working, defensively minded, player who can fill in at CDM or CB – a partnership with Ezequiel Rojas could be what Procopio needs. Creativity shouldn’t be an issue with Sykes Garro, Juanma Perez & Ernesto Cornejo at his proposal.

Boro & Juanfri have picked up from where they left off, grabbing five goals between them on the opening day. Summer signing Kyle Casciaro, when fully fit, will be fighting with Pedrito for a place on the wing.

The only headache we expect Raul Procopio to have is how does he implement the 4 HGP’s into his side without breaking their style of play and their momentum after the recent UEL campaign – it will be an interesting season for Saints and we’ll learn more about this side when it’s time to face the “big boys” of Gib football.

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Leo FC withdraw from the National League

Leo FC have become the latest side to withdraw from the Gibraltar National League, after a rumoured potential investment from a former UKIP politician, who owns English side Kings Lynn Town, was confirmed to have been rejected by the Integrity Unit of the GFA, who were not satisfied “that the Club’s acquisition was in the best interests of Gibraltarian football as a whole.”

Photo © William Gracia

The club, who were rumoured to be in talks to be bought out by Stephen Cleeve, who currently owns the English non-league side Kings Lynn Town, have chosen, it is believed voluntarily, to withdraw after the deal was blocked by the GFA.

It now means that the Gibraltar National League is down to 13 teams, less than 24 hours after the season started – Leo being the third team this week to withdraw. The team, who finished 6th in the Second Division last season, have been in existence under a few names since 2004. The club had signed a number of players this summer, but had reportedly seen some of these players leave days or weeks later, which officials at Leo apparently believed due to financial and not playing reasons on the part of the players.

In a statement, the Gibraltar FA comment that: “The Gibraltar Football Association (GFA) regrets to inform football fans that a third club, Leo FC, has today opted to withdraw from the Gibraltar National League.

The Club have informed the GFA that the decision to withdraw has been taken as a result of the GFA’s rejection of a potential takeover of the Club by an investor based outside Gibraltar.

The GFA confirms that its Integrity Unit has indeed recently rejected a potential takeover by a new investor. As with all such cases, the GFA carries out a series of integrity checks on the potential owner, including checks with the support of UEFA. Those checks have failed to give the GFA the necessary satisfaction that the Club’s acquisition was in the best interests of Gibraltarian football as a whole. The proposed acquisition was therefore rejected.

Leo FC’s decision to subsequently withdraw from the Gibraltar National League means that there are now thirteen Clubs in the league. Matches this week, with the obvious exception of the match involving Leo FC scheduled for Saturday, will continue as normal.

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Bosio: “The serious injury has been mentally draining on myself”

We caught up with Gibraltar international Jamie Bosio to get his reaction on Gibraltar United withdrawing from the league, his continuos battle over unpaid medical expenses and his future in football.

Yesterday it was announced that Gibraltar United would be withdrawn from the Gibraltar National League after ongoing financial issues, Bosio gave us his reaction to the news – “Given the way things have escalated in the last few months, to be honest, it’s not surprising whatsoever. Obviously, you try to be hopeful but in this case it was something that everyone could see coming. When players are owed two months wages from the season before going into a new preseason, that’s a sign that things aren’t right. I’m disappointed because I’ve spent three years with Gibraltar United and many people in the local community have an affiliation to this club which had been in existence for a combined total of 75 years. So yes it’s a sad day, but yes the writing was on the wall.”

Salgado and Dana took over at Gibraltar United in April 2017, a move at that time which was massive but would end up leaving a sour taste in the mouths of people in GIbraltar. We asked Bosio if he ever thought a situation like this would have ever come about after their ownership, “When the new investors came in you try to be optimistic and they seemed legitimate. They sold themselves very well at the start and basically told the old owners everything they wanted to hear. Because of Michel Salgado putting his reputation on the line and becoming “the face” of the club we expected nothing but the best. However, that was the first and last time we saw him. Pablo Dana was always in contact with the board and players initially but this is something that started to deteriorate as time went by.”

Late payments became a normal occurence for many of the players but days turned into weeks and now leaves them three months unpaid. We asked Bosio what kind of impact this has had on his former team-mate, “Most of my teammates are obviously distraught, especially those from last season who had put in endless hours of hard work and sacrifice with no reward. It’s not fair that players give up so much (especially those with family and children abroad) to be treated in this way. Especially now so close to the start of the new season, it’s also going to be difficult for them to find new clubs as most teams are probably set on their final squad numbers by now.”

A serious injury last season forced Jamie Bosio to seek medical treatement abroad – on his return, the club refused to reimburse him which resulted in almost taking up the situation in court – Bosio told us more, “My injury is something that they mismanaged from the time it happened in October last year. At that moment, when a club stops caring for a players health is when I knew my relationship with them could end very badly. Unfortunately, that is what happened… To this day I have spent out of pocket over £16,000 in medical fees, that include my operation, consultations, scans and physio sessions. The club itself doesn’t have any player medical insurance. I was told that things would be taken care of yet here we are nearly a whole year later with not a penny received. And now, it’s looking highly unlikely that any of that will ever be paid back to me. If a club cannot care for its players in the human aspect then it shouldn’t be selling itself as a “professional” set up.”

312 days later, Bosio’s recovery goes from stride to stride but still no payment in sight from Gibraltar United – we asked if the club has made any type of confirmation regarding the payment, “I’ve been waiting for months for a meeting to try to settle the debts amicably or try to some sort of compromise but to no avail. To his credit, Adrian Ballestero has tried his best but this and much more issues at the club go beyond him and can only be dealt with by the owners and directors. If the club owes players (not just me) money then someone surely should be held accountable, or is it ok for them to walk away from their problems and leave this mess behind? Surely the GFA need to look into the investors of local clubs that come from abroad and make sure they are legit in what they are offering.”

After the season kicked off last night, it’s a last minute rush for his team-mates and him to make arrangements with other clubs – we asked what the future holds for the 27-year old, “At the moment I’m completely disillusioned with football in Gibraltar. The serious injury has been mentally draining on myself but this added to it has been awful. I’m strongly considering my next move, ignoring all financial aspects and looking to go somewhere where I will enjoy playing football again. I’m focusing on getting myself match fit again and keeping on top of my rehabilitation programme above all else.”

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Social media reacts to Gibraltar United news

Following the news of Gibraltar United withdrawing from the Gibraltar National League, we got social media’s, as well as former player’s reaction to the news.

A historic club which is so well known around Gibraltar has today withdrawn from the Gibraltar National League and as a result, have had licenses rescinded with immediate effect. Consequently, as per GFA Regulations, neither Club will be able to re-apply for membership of the GFA for a minimum period of five years.

FG approached Quantocoin for a statement regarding the withdrawn agreement but at the time of writing, did not answer.

Chino, who captained the side last season, told FG “Incredibly sad to see the club dissapear after so much hard work has gone into it.”

Former Gibraltar United captain Andrew Lopez spoke to FG about the news, “Regarding the situation with Gibraltar United, I feel disgraced. Gibraltar is a club I have played for winning the premier league back in 2001 as an 18-year-old under one of the best managers around at the time Richard Duarte. I managed to stay on for a couple of more years back then, holding the fort with several others including Kenneth Asquez, who had love and passion for this club. I hand on as player/manager and played for both premier and reserves team back then, but this was not good enough as the club disappeared after several years of fighting and persuading players. Later, some of the ex-players such as Damian Rocca, Daniel Wahnon and a few others decided to put together a meeting and revive the Gibraltar United legacy. We managed to register the team and bring back all the young local players who used to play for this club and had a lot of love and passion for this team, without a doubt they returned to us. We were all locals, and this was our motto! And believe me some great local players involved which gave us enough strength and ‘amor propio’ to get us through the first every 2nd Division league after Gibraltar joined UEFA. Some very strong teams in 2nd division, probably the hardest league of the lot. Gibraltar United won the league and were automatically promoted, I can proudly say I captained the side yet again and we made the dream come true. Money was now the issue and unfortunately the staff did not respect our willingness to continue as ‘Only Gibraltarians’ after working so hard for this club. I was pushed out as captain and then the rest of the locals followed as a domino effect, leaving those who really had passion for the club in no other option but to leave to other teams and compete against Gib Utd. Gibraltar have now been several years fighting for a UEFA spot under the new regime ‘SALGADO/DANA’ who offered payments via BITCOIN. As we all well know now, Gib Utd have missed out on a UEFA spot for several years and have not proved their worth, there was no passion in this team anymore, filled with foreigners and locals who prefer money rather than fighting for the red and white colors. The ‘Investors’, have now pulled out and Gibraltar has yet again disappeared, I feel this is well-deserved due to depending on people who don’t really care about the club just wanted to find a sort of investment or other reasons to input monies into this club, goes to show how it has sadly ended. As last real Gibraltarian Captain of this club, (apart from Chino who signed later and held on after me), I feel disgraced, sad and sorry to see my club disappear yet again. This is football now a days!”

Kenneth Asquez, son of Pepe Asquez who was President of the club during the early 80’s to mid 90’s, said “Its is sad for local football to hear that team with such a historic and rich heritage like Gibraltar United is folding as a result of financial issues with foreign investors coming into football for the wrong reasons.

On a personal note the matter is compounded due to having spent a substantial amount of my life attached to the club, as was my father. I have very good friends still there and feel for them.

I hope those investors will come out publicly now and give us an explanation, everyone deserves one, due to the heritage of this club.

These individuals need to be held accountable after all the exposure they made in local and international media using international stars like Michel Salgado and Roberto Carlos to give themselves credibility in an industry they clearly knew nothing about.

Its now time for the League and Association to work together and that is what they must do. The GFA and the clubs should sit down and decide how they want to move forward perhaps going back to the basics from pre UEFA Climate days. There is a structure in place under the auspices of the League Association it’s about time to empower the individuals who have the best interests of the game and our children at heart. Crucial for me, and have been saying it since before a ball was even kicked after gaining entry into UEFA, is to agree on a formula to share the prize money from competing in European Competitions.

Lets bring football back home!”

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Phoenix and Gib United withdraw from National League

The 2019/20 Gibraltar National League will start with just 14 teams, after the Gibraltar Football Association confirm that Gibraltar United and Gibraltar Phoenix will no longer participate in senior football.

Photo © William Gracia

The news comes hours before the league gets underway and is a massive blow to the perceived stability of local football, especially given both sides were considered contenders for the top eight this season. Phoenix and Gib United become the 15th and 16th teams to withdraw from the 11-a-side game since 2009 (four years before UEFA membership came in to place), not including reserve teams who were no longer permitted to play in the senior system.

In a statement, the Gibraltar FA comment: “The Gibraltar Football Association (GFA) is disappointed to announce that two Clubs have withdrawn from competing in the Gibraltar National League.

The two clubs are Gibraltar Phoenix FC and Gibraltar United FC.

The Domestic Licences awarded to both Clubs are rescinded with immediate effect. Consequently, as per GFA Regulations, neither Club will be able to re-apply for membership of the GFA for a minimum period of five years.

Discussions with both Clubs have taken place to minimize, as much as possible, the impact on youth teams registered with either Club. In this respect, the GFA wishes to place on record its gratitude to Mr. Brian Brosco (Gibraltar Phoenix FC) and Mr. Adrian Ballestero (Gibraltar United FC) both of whom have shown tremendous honesty and integrity in their dealings with the Association, and who have consistently worked in the best interests of the young footballers at their respective Clubs.”

As a result of this, the league will split into two groups of seven, instead of eight as planned, after the first round of fixtures. A revised fixture list for the first two gameweeks can be found here.

The news also has a knock-on effect on the Gibtelecom Rock Cup as only 15 teams will enter the cup. As such, the new format sees Europa, as cup winners, given a bye to the Second Round, while the other 13 National League teams, as well as FC Hound Dogs, will start in the First Round.

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Gibraltar National League 2019 preview

The newly reconstructed Gibraltar National League season is upon us, kicking off today when Lynx take on Mons Calpe at 20:30, so read below our preview, where we attempt to predict the outcome of the league.

Who will win the title? Lincoln Red Imps are looking to retain their crown again, but will face stiff competition from Europa once more, while St Joseph’s, Mons Calpe and newboys Brunos Magpies have all spent heavily to reinforce their squads and try to close the gap.

Who will finish in the top eight? The new inclusion of the “Championship Group” sees the league split and the top seven seperated and battle it out between themselves for the league. The winner particpates in the UEFA Champions League, while the two runners-up move to the UEFA Europa League (depending the outcome of the Gibtelecom Rock Cup).

Your easy choices would be Lincoln Red Imps, Europa, St Joseph’s and Mons Calpe. Gibraltar Phoenix & Gibraltar United’s withdrawal leaves more empty spots to join the aforementioned four teams. We would expect Brunos Magpies to take advantage of this, while joining them would be Lynx and Lions.

The Challenge Group? Manchester 62 should be favourites and will provide tough competition with Lynx & Lions in the Championship Group. Leo announced a host of good signings earlier on in the season and led by Dani Amaya, could be favourites to win the group. College 1975 have been very quiet throughout the summer and if the signing of ex-St Joseph’s & Lions striker Jose Luis Romero is anything to go by, they could be real underdogs to even sneak into the Championship Group.

Europa Point have had a strong finish to their preseason, their only problem would be finding enough HGP’s – they will be hoping they can pick up some from Phoenix & Gib Utd. Boca have been relatively quiet this summer, apart from the announcement of their new head coach Christian Ressa, it’s been a ‘hush hush’ transfer window so it’ll be interesting to see the team they put out on Tuesday night.

Glacis will be hoping their financial troubles behind them and try to reach the heights they did back in 2016, but with players still reportedly stating they are missing wages from the second half of last season looks like it’ll be another long season for them.

Last but not least FC Olympique, a team which looks to be struggling to get a full squad together. However, with their game against Gibraltar United expected to be cancelled, it could actually be a blessing in disguise to give the club more time to bring in much needed players and compete at this level.

Gibraltar National League prediction:

  1. Europa FC
  2. Lincoln Red Imps
  3. St Joseph’s
  4. Brunos Magpies
  5. Mons Calpe
  6. Lynx
  7. Lions
  8. Manchester 62
  9. College 1975
  10. Leo FC
  11. Europa Point
  12. Glacis United
  13. FC Boca Juniors
  14. FC Olympique
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Liam Walker wins it for Europa

An early goal by Liam Walker secured Europa a 1-0 win over their rivals Lincoln and sealed his side the Pepe Reyes Memorial Cup for a second consecutive season.

Lincoln with Kike, Lee Casciaro and George Cabrera all injured which left Victor Afonso starting their newly signed striker Idelino Gomes while Chino was given a surprise debut ahead of first choice keeper Lolo Soler.

Europa started life without Tjay De Barr with Dayle Coleing, Ethan Jolley, Jayce Olivero and Captain Liam Walker starting while Rafa Escobar handed debuts to Juampe, Adrian Gallardo, Sergio Sanchez, Marco Rosa and Fernando Velasco.

We only had to wait four minutes for the first goal as Juampe dribbled past Joseph Chipolina and played a low ball towards Liam Walker, whose shot from 25-yards left Chino rooted to the spot, giving the holders Europa a 1-0 lead.

Lincoln came battling back and debutant Blas Alvarez’s deflected shot nearly found its way into the bottom corner but went out for a corner which Dayle Coleing caught superbly. Juampe was having fun on the right hand side, continuously finding himself in a good attacking position but his final ball was swept up by the Lincoln defence.

Anthony Hernandez played a good through ball to Gato whose shot from a tight angle went wide. Shortly after Gato found himself behind Jayce Olivero again and fired a low shot towards goal which Coleing got a strong hand to it to keep it out.

The game evened out and the first half ended with Europa leading 1-0 courtesy of Liam Walker.

The second half got underway with Lincoln on the front-foot and a mix-up at the back nearly led to an equaliser but Gomes was unable to capitalise and Jayce Olivero cleared the danger at the backpost.

Juampe’s continued to be cause the Lincoln defence problems, his pace proved too much for Roy Chipolina and his pass found Adrian Gallardo whose first time shot went just over the crossbar. Europa nearly doubled their lead in the 53rd minute as Velasco’s shot took a deflection off Roy Chipolina and rolled inches wide of the post.

Dayle Coleing was slow to react to Sergio Molina’s shot from range which hit the post, Lincoln appealed to what looked like to be a certain corner but the referee awarded a goal-kick. Around 15 minutes to go and trailing 1-0, Lincoln brought on Jamie Coombes to replace Sergio Molina while Europa swapped out their strikers with Manu Dimas coming on for Adrian Gallardo.

A few minutes later, Ethan Britto replaced Roy Chipolina with Joseph Chipolina receiving the captain’s armband and moving into the centre of defence.

Europa kept their nerve for the remainder of the game and walked away with the first piece of silverware of the season, beating Lincoln 1-0.

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2019 Pepe Reyes Cup: Match Preview

League champions Lincoln Red Imps take on Gibtelecom Rock Cup winners Europa FC in the 2019 Pepe Reyes Cup tonight.

Photo © William Gracia

The traditional curtain-raiser once again sees Gibraltar’s top two sides face off for the fifth season in a row, and is the first of two meetings in the space of less than a week – the two sides face off in the first week of the National League.

The game is also the first match under the increased HGP regulations, so each side will have a minimum of four locals on the pitch at all times. With Jaylan Hankins and Tjay De Barr moving to Spanish sides in the summer, both teams will have slightly different sides to the end of last season, and with new signings on both sides, tonight promises to be an intriguing encounter.

For Lincoln, Chino or Lolo Soler will be one of the big questions, as to who starts in goal – if Soler starts, then either Ethan Britto or Jamie Coombes will be expected to start, alongside Joseph, Roy Chipolina and Anthony Hernandez, presuming all are fit to play.

As for Europa, their biggest call will be who start at left-back – most likely a straight decision between Ethan Jolley and Jayce Olivero – elsewhere, Dayle Coleing is expected to start in goal, while Liam Walker will captain the side. One potentially interesting sub-plot is whether Jack Sergeant starts – it isn’t clear if the former Lincoln man has finalised his moved to Europa yet, with apparent complications allegedly hampering the deal. If he isn’t cleared to play, Jason Pusey or Mikey Yome may come in to the first XI, with the former making his debut if he does so.

The last two editions of this tournament have been settled on penalties, and we wouldn’t bank against today’s game going the distance as well – as we get the first glimpses of the season ahead.