Gibraltar football unites in tough times

The Gibraltar football community has united together to show remarkable acts of gratitude, support, and kindness during these tough times.

With Covid-19 growing in Gibraltar, the staff at the Gibraltar Health Authority continue to work tirelessly to combat the virus and assist those who have it.

The Gibraltar Football Association has focused this week on helping those in the community and those working at the frontline during this pandemic. Apart from posting daily reminders on how to combat the virus, they have also done the following:

  • Donating £5000.00 to the GHA to purchase much needed extra Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
  • Sponsoring and promoting GHA Social Media Activity.
  • Donating iPads to be used on the Hospital Wards to allow staff and patients to communicate with their loved ones during these difficult times.
  • Holding a weekly ‘Pizza Night’ where pizzas are distributed across all GHA & ERS sites for frontline staff.
  • Working with the Education Department to explore options for creating football-themed educational content for children.
  • Assisting GibSams in their efforts to raise awareness of Mental Health issues at this time and get people talking.

Gibraltar FA General Secretary Ivan Robba had this to say on the subject – ” “From the moment we suspended all competitions, we have redirected all our focus towards those in Gibraltar who need it the most during these times, and we will continue to do so until the final whistle has blown. The Gibraltar FA and all our members take social responsibility very seriously and we are aware that we can all provide meaningful assistance during these very difficult times. We, therefore, will continue to reach out to other bodies to offer our assistance. In the meantime, I take this opportunity of once again expressing our most sincere and heartfelt gratitude to all those incredible people out there fighting this awful disease on Gibraltar’s front line.”

It isn’t only the association which has gotten involved, Gibraltar international striker Tjay De Barr sent a number of pizzas to the nurses which his Aunty is stationed in a show of appreciation of their hard work.

It is believed that other clubs within the Gibraltar National League are expected to follow suit and show their support towards those working at the frontline during these tough times.


McClafferty: “It felt amazing to make my debut”

FG caught up with 15-year old Paddy McClafferty about making his senior debut for CD San Roque a few weeks ago, advice on playing abroad and more.

We asked Paddy how his move to CD San Roque came about, “I have been playing for San Roque since I was 8 Years old (pre-benjamin) for a team named Naranjitos which then converted into Club San Roque. I was invited by a friend to train with San Roque – I decided to give it a go and since then I took an immediate like to the team.”

Paddy made his senior debut for CD San Roque in their 2-1 win over Atletico Espeleno two weeks ago – we asked him how it felt, “When I was told it was time for me to play, I was very excited and I wanted to play immediately! I remained calm and focused and didn’t think of anything else but playing my role and doing my job on the pitch. It felt amazing to make my debut and a great sense of achievement!”

We asked Paddy how playing in Spain has impacted him as a player, “Playing in Spain has improved my football skills and knowledge of the game. The pace and intensity of the matches in Spain are excellent and challenging however this is what I love about it. It helps me to progress as a player as I am constantly being challenged.”

Playing abroad for any footballer is difficult, whether how young or old, – Paddy had some advice for those young footballers looking to make the massive step to play over the boarder or anywhere in the world, “Players of my age or younger who want to play abroad should definitely try it and move out of your comfort zone. Playing abroad takes discipline and courage but if you want to thrive anywhere as football, this is what it takes.”

Making his senior debut at 15, involved in the Gibraltar U16’s – Paddy gave us an insight into his goals for the next five years, “Sign a professional contract for a 1st division team. Advance my skills and grow as a footballer. Succeed not only with my football but with my academic grades and results. To make it pro and slowly work my way up the ranks.”


Bautista: “Last year had its ups and downs”

We spoke to 18-year old Luke Bautista about life at his new club Europa FC, his goals for 2020 and more.

Luke Bautista joined Europa from Mons Calpe last summer – we asked how he has found life at his new club, “Life at the new club has been difficult compared to what I was previously used to. Due to the logistics of training in another country together with my studies, it is very difficult to keep up the commitment. Also, competing for positions with top seasoned pros becomes nearly an impossible task to get into the first 11. On the plus side, professional set up with top quality players has taught me a lot in both on and off the pitch.”

Luke has made 3 appearances for Europa so far in the Gibraltar National League scoring 2 goals and has used this experience wisely as he currently leads the goalscoring charts in the Intermediate League with 14 goals – we asked if he feels his game has improved since joining the league leaders, “Yes of course, when you start training with a top team for a certain amount of time, you can only get better at what you do. Fitness, game understanding, awareness, and positioning. Also combining with better players makes life a bit easier on the pitch.”

The 18-year old had a busy end to 2019 with International football his main focus with the friendly tournament to Taiwan in late September and UEFA Euro U19 Championship Qualifiers in November – Luke reflected on the experience, “Due to the fact that I joined a top club, doors have been open to me for the National Team. Last year had its ups and downs as we competed in two International tournaments. In November, we were placed in a very difficult group with the likes of Ireland, Switzerland, and Austria. On the other hand, winning my first international game with the U19’s against Hong Kong was unforgettable.”

Lastly, we asked Luke about his goals for 2020 – “For 2020, I am looking to keep myself as sharp as possible and meet the goals set for myself and the team this season. I would also like to keep on representing my country when the time comes.”


All domestic football suspended with immediate effect

Further to yesterday’s announcement, the Gibraltar FA have this morning (14th March 2020) confirmed that all domestic football, including the Gibraltar National League, has been suspended with immediate effect

Photo (C) William Gracia

The GFA’s statement is as follows: “Further to yesterday’s developments, in particular  the measures taken by Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar and the situation in Spain, the Gibraltar FA has taken the decision to suspend all domestic football with immediate effect.

The Gibraltar FA would like to remind all supporters to follow the guidelines issued by the relevant local authorities and to make use of the Gibraltar Health Authority’s 111 Covid-19 helpline for any queries relating to the Corona-Virus.”


GFA issue further update on local football

The Gibraltar FA have issued a further update, regarding the ongoing COVID-19 situation, with regards to local football

Photo (C) C Correa Photography

The GFA decisions comes after an emergency meeting of their Board of Directors, held this morning, and are as follows:

National League

Unlike other competitions around Europe, there are only 4 more rounds left to complete the domestic league. Therefore, in an effort to do so, and therefore secure the Gibraltar FA’s obligations towards future UEFA Club Competitions, it has been decided as follows:

National League (Championship Group)

This weekend’s matches in the Championship Group will go ahead behind closed doors as scheduled. Subject to the outcome of Tuesday’s UEFA meeting involving all 55 member associations where UEFA will formalize its position on domestic and European football over the next six months, all remaining fixtures in the Championship Group may be brought forward in order to ensure the season is completed as soon as possible.

National League (Challenge Group)

Tomorrow’s match between FC Boca Juniors (Gibraltar) and Glacis United FC will go ahead as scheduled to complete round 7 of the Challenge Group. After that, the Challenge Group will be suspended with immediate effect.

Gibtelecom Cup

The three remaining Gibtelecom Cup fixtures (two semi-finals and a final) will continue, although fixtures may be brought forward to ensure the competition is concluded as soon as possible.

The Gibraltar FA is currently exploring the possibility of broadcasting all remaining Championship Group and Gibtelecom Cup games, and will provide more information on this shortly.

Intermediate League

The Intermediate League is suspended with immediate effect.

Youth football

All youth football activities (including training sessions) are suspended with immediate effect.

Men’s futsal

All remaining fixtures in the Men’s Futsal League are suspended with immediate effect. The domestic season will proceed directly to the Play-Off Stage. The format for these Play-Offs will be announced shortly and will be brought forward to be concluded as soon as possible.

The Futsal Rock Cup is suspended with immediate effect.

Women’s futsal

The Women’s Futsal League is suspended with immediate effect.

We will closely monitor the evolution of the COVID-19 situation and review the above positions accordingly.

International football
A decision on all of Gibraltar’s international commitments, which include two home U21 qualifiers versus Norway and Cyprus later this month, scheduled friendly internationals in Malta against Malta and Liechtenstein and hosting the UEFA Women’s Futsal EURO qualifiers, will be made following Tuesday’s emergency UEFA meeting in which Gibraltar will be in attendance.

GFA General Secretary Ivan Robba, after the conclusion of said meeting, commented that: “These decisions have been difficult for us to take as we know the impact it has on all of our members and the wider football community. They have not been taken lightly, and some may even consider them to be extreme. However, we are facing an unprecedented crisis, and as a large sporting association, we need to take significant steps to play our part in protecting our community against this pandemic. We take this opportunity of expressing our full support to all those involved in the fight against COVID-19, and thank all our members and wider football community for their understanding in these difficult times.”

In other football-related news, the draw for the Gibtelecom Rock Cup semi-finals took place – St Joseph’s drew Lincoln, while Europa face Mons Calpe in the other semi-final.


Gibtelecom Rock Cup quarter-final review

The Gibtelecom Rock Cup quarter-finals brought no surprises as Mons Calpe, St Joseph’s, Europa and Lincoln Red Imps progress into the next round.

Mons Calpe 3-1 Europa Point

Mons rushed into an early two-goal lead against Europa Point, with Diego Diaz and Andre Dos Santos scoring in the first ten minutes before things settled down a bit more.

Europa Point was out of the traps early in the second half and got a goal back thanks to Diego Vera’s header, but their chances of a comeback were ended after Samuel Vermeeren’s own goal, and captain Antony Moulds late red card.

Mons is the only Challenge Group team left in the cup, and while they are now rank outsiders, they will look to make the cup final for the second time in three years.

St Joseph’s 1-0 Brunos Magpies

If last weekend’s encounter was anything to go by, we expected a fiery contest and certainly got it. With the level of football being played below par, both teams didn’t hide away from any strong challenges.

Juanfri scored from the penalty spot to send 10-man Saints, who had Angel Guirado sent off, into the semi-final since 2017 but it was the altercation after the final whistle which was the main focal point.

An altercation between Kelvin Morgan and Juanma Gonzalez spurred on a brawl between both teams which took quite some time to calm down – a situation which you’d believe the Gibraltar FA will investigate further.

Europa 2-0 Lions

The Rock Cup holders went safely through to the semi-finals thanks to goals from Fernando Velasco and Manuel Dimas. The Green found it tough to break the well-organised Lions defence, an improvement from their 7-0 defeat last weekend.

Europa will need to be much better for Saturday when they come up against St Joseph’s – a doubt for that match could be Olmo who came off early with a suspected groin injury.

Lincoln 6-0 Boca

As expected, Lincoln beat Boca, by a score of 6-0 on Sunday afternoon. Boca made them work for it, but Pibe’s brace and Jamie Coombes first-half goal meant at the break the game was all but done.

Boca gave Lincoln a slight scare in winning a penalty, but they missed from 12 yards, and that led to Lincoln making sure there was to be no hint of a comeback – Oli, Gato, and Blas Alvarez all scored in the second half to put an end to a spirited Boca side, who before the game may have been fearing a bigger scoreline.


Coleing and Escobar take FG Monthly awards in February

In a month which saw Europa move to within six points of winning the title, goalkeeper Dayle Coleing and manager Rafael Escobar are FG’s Player of the Month and Manager of the Month for February.

Photo © Vanessa Correa

FG Player of the Month – Dayle Coleing (Europa FC)

Goalkeepers tend to have to do a lot to be noticed in awards, especially compared to more attacking players, but this month, Coleing stepped up to the plate and kept four clean sheets in four league games. In fact, the goalkeeper has only conceded one goal in the whole of 2020 so far, which is made more impressive now the league is split and the opposition becomes harder.

His contributions haven’t just been in keeping goals out though – his distribution helped set up Europa’s game-clincher against Lincoln at the start of the month, while he generally has the ability to kick-start Europa attacks. Therefore, he edges out both his teammate Liam Walker, who scored five and assisted three in the month, and St Joseph’s striker Juanfri, who also scored five last month, including match-winning goals against Lynx and Magpies as Saints hold on to second.

  1. Dayle Coleing (Europa FC)
  2. Juanfri (St Joseph’s)
  3. Liam Walker (Europa FC)

FG Manager of the Month – Rafael Escobar (Europa FC)

February was a straight-up battle between Escobar and Saints manager Raul Procopio, with both winning all four of their matches in the month. However, with Europa scoring 19 and conceding zero, including 5-0 wins vs Lynx and Magpies (two sides Saints only beat by one goal), we’ve plumped with the Europa manager. Escobar has guided his side now to 14 consecutive victories, and Europa have not been beaten in all competitions (including the Europa League) since Lincoln beat them to win the title last season.

Elsewhere, both Mons Calpe and Europa Point lead the way in the Challenge Group, but this time we’ve opted for the Mons manager Luis Manuel Blanco, who has managed to maintain his sides six-point lead at the top with four games left, putting them in a commanding position to take the Challenge Group honours.

  1. Rafael Escobar (Europa FC)
  2. Raul Procopio (St Joseph’s)
  3. Luis Manuel Blanco (Mons Calpe SC)

Llambias: “It has been a joy to play with each and every single player”

We caught up with Lincoln Red Imps U23 captain Ethan Thorne-Llambias to get his thoughts on securing the Intermediate league title earlier this week, his goals for the remainder of the year and more.

Lincoln clinched the title on Monday with a 2-1 win over Lions thanks to goals from Kyron McGrail and Ellis Wilson – we asked Ethan how it feels to be Champions, “It’s always an amazing feeling as we’ve worked hard to get to this moment. We have a great feeling of accomplishment and feel as if we have everything ahead of us and we can only get better.”

The Imps hold an impressive record in the Intermediate League winning 15 from 16 games and drawing 1 – Ethan reviewed his team’s season so far, “To be completely honest I would say that we have had a brilliant season, but obviously there is still more that me and the team can improve on as a whole. We have not always played our best football but we have always got the results. We can always learn and improve on our game as a team and as individuals, in saying this I believe that better things are to come.”

With an average age of just 16 years old from their win over Lions, Ethan is one of the more senior players and captain of the team – we asked him what he thinks of the young players coming up the ranks, “It has been a joy to play with each and every single player as they all offer something different. They are all hard-working and work for the team rather for themselves which is everything you need and want. They have impressed me and I think we could see a few players as individuals being outstanding if they carry on doing what they are doing now.”

With the first piece of silverware wrapped up in March – we asked Ethan what other goals he has set out for himself in 2020, “Firstly to improve as a player whether that be technically, physically, mentally, etc. Secondly I want to show to all my coaches what I can bring/offer and keep working hard to get opportunities and lastly to set an example for younger footballers in Gibraltar, showing them that if you work hard enough and really want something, there is nothing that can stop you from achieving it.”


Gibraltar take on San Marino in Nations League opener

Gibraltar will open their upcoming UEFA Nations League campaign against San Marino on Saturday 5th September.

Photo © William Gracia

Yesterday’s draw in Amsterdam saw Gibraltar drawn in the group of three, with Liechtenstein completing Group 2. The group of three means that Gibraltar will have to fill up two empty fixture slots with friendly matches if they wish – although with all 54 other UEFA members having fixtures guaranteed in all six slots, should Gib play they would have to face a member from outside of Europe.

Gibraltar’s free spots are on Matchday 2 and Matchday 4, with a match away to Liechtenstein sandwiched in between on October 8th. November sees the conclusion of the group, where Gibraltar firstly play away at San Marino, before taking on Liechtenstein in the group finale on November 16th.

With Group 1 containing Faroe Islands, Latvia, Andorra & Malta, the general consensus is that in Group 2, Gibraltar have a genuine chance of promotion to League C – although only the top team are promoted from each group. At the very least, Gibraltar should be targeting to get results in their games, with especially the matches against San Marino, who have failed to win a fixture in 16 years, potential chances for taking three points.

Gibraltar’s Fixtures:

Saturday 5th September 2020: Gibraltar v San Marino – 15:00 CET

Thursday 8th October 2020: Liechtenstein v Gibraltar 20:45 – CET

Friday 13th November 2020: San Marino v Gibraltar 20:45 – CET

Monday 16th November 2020: Gibraltar v Liechtenstein 20:45 – CET


Liam Walker is FG Player of the Week

Europa captain Liam Walker is awarded FG Player of the Week as the attacking midfielder scored a second-half hat-trick in Europa’s 7-0 win over Lions.

Photo © V Correa Photography

Liam Walker – Europa FC (1st)

After finishing second in last week’s award, Walker ensured he took top spot this week scoring a hat-trick, and setting up two more as Europa found their form in the second half against a youthful Lions side.

Walker broke the 20-goal mark this season in getting his hat-trick, and is looking to catch up with St Joseph’s striker Juanfri in the top scorer charts – which would make him the first Gibraltarian since Lee Casciaro in 2015 to top the league’s scoring charts.

Juanfri – St Joseph’s (2nd)

Juanfri has constantly proven to be a match-winner for St Joseph’s, and when they found themselves 1-0 down to Magpies, and facing a threat to their second spot in the league, the Spanish striker stepped up once again, scoring twice to turn the game around and keep Saints five point gap from third.

The 30-year-old has proven to be one of the clubs smartest signings in recent years, and his goals will continue to win Saints games both domestically, and in European competition potentially.

Kike Gomez – Lincoln Red Imps (3rd)

Much like Juanfri, anyone who follows local football knows that Kike wins you games – he has done so for both Europa and Lincoln in the last few years. On Friday, his brace was instrumental as Lincoln broke down a stubborn Lynx side 3-1.

With the competition for attacking place at Lincoln being strong, Kike has firmly established himself as the main striker for the Red Imps, and at 25, the striker can only improve in the coming years.

Ethan Britto – Lincoln Red Imps (4th)

Britto has established himself into Lincoln’s first eleven this season, and his performances have also earned him a trial at Las Palmas this week. The teenager, who can operate at either left back or left wing, capped off a great Friday by opening the scoring, and generally being a threat on that wing.

Britto is showing good promise at this time, and having started Gibraltar’s last three internationals, he will also be looking to make a spot in Julio Ribas team his own for the upcoming friendlies this month, and going forward the Nations League in the autumn.

Ayoub El Hmidi – Mons Calpe (5th)

Ayoub scored two in Mons Calpe’s easy win over College last week to keep their six-point lead over Europa Point.

Despite his performances looking lethargic at times, the 19-year old has played a big part in his side’s unbeaten run in 2020.