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.


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.”


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.


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.


Nations League: Gibraltar’s potential opponents profiled

Ahead of Tuesday’s UEFA Nations League draw, we look at the six teams who join Gibraltar in League D, and could potentially be Gib’s opponents this autumn.

Photo (C) William Gracia

With the change in structure of the Nations League, there are now only seven teams in League D, which will be split into a group of four teams and a group of three. Gibraltar are seeded in the first pot due to their Nations League performances in 2018, which means they can only draw one of the other first pot nations (Faroe Islands, Latvia & Liechtenstein), and either one or two of the second pot nations (Andorra, Malta & San Marino). So, how have Gibraltar’s potential opponents done in the past couple of years?

Faroe Islands:

World Ranking – 110th

2018/19 Nations League – The Faroe Islands, like Gib, finished third in their Nations League group, picking up five points from six games. Their sole win was a 3-1 home victory against Malta, while they also drew with the same opponents away, while picking up a point at home to Kosovo who won the group.

Euro 2020 Qualifying – The Faroe Islands finished fifth of six teams in the Euro Qualifiers, and once again their sole victory came against Malta – they lost their other nine qualifiers though including a 2-1 defeat away at Malta.

History vs Gibraltar – Gibraltar have played the Faroes twice before, once before joining UEFA, where Gib won 3-0, and once in their first game at the Victoria Stadium after joining UEFA, where the Faroes won 4-1. The two teams have yet to play each other since.


World Ranking – 137th

2018/19 Nations League – Latvia finished third in Group 1 of League D, but despite picking up four points, failed to actually win a game, drawing four and losing two of their six matches. Their two defeats came to Kazakhstan and Georgia, while they also drew twice with Andorra, potential opponents for Gib. Notably, Latvia only scored twice in their six games.

Euro 2020 Qualifying – Latvia finished bottom of Group G, picking up three points in a win against already-qualified Austria on the final matchday. Once again, goalscoring seemed to be an issue for Latvia, only notching three times in 10 matches.

History vs Gibraltar – Like the Faroes, Latvia have faced Gib twice in friendlies – a 5-0 victory in 2016 for Latvia, but a memorable 1-0 win for Gib under the interim management of Desi Curry, where Liam Walker’s late free kick saw Gib win their first game at the Victoria since becoming UEFA & FIFA members.


World Ranking – 180th

2018/19 Nations League – We need no reminder that Liechtenstein were in the same Nations League group as Gibraltar. They finished bottom, two points below Gib, with their sole victory coming against Julio Ribas’ side in Vaduz, while they also drew 2-2 at home to Armenia on the final matchday, a result which secured Gibraltar’s third place spot.

Euro 2020 Qualifying – Liechtenstein finished bottom of Group J, picking up two points in draws away to Greece and again at home to Armenia. Results were understandably harder to come by in a tough group that consisted of Italy and Finland, who qualified for Euro 2020, and Greece and Bosnia and Herzegovina as well.

History vs Gibraltar – Liechtenstein have faced Gib three times. The only non-competitive fixture was a 0-0 friendly draw at the Victoria Stadium, while in the Nations League, after beating Gib in Vaduz, Julio Ribas’ side notched up a 2-1 victory in the reverse fixture thanks to goals from George Cabrera and Joseph Chipolina. The two sides also meet later this month in Malta for a friendly.


World Ranking – 135th

2018/19 Nations League – Andorra finished bottom of Group 1, after also drawing four and losing two games like Latvia had. The lack of goals may have concerned them (two in six games), but only conceding nine in those matches too will have given them more confidence in their defensive abilities this time out.

Euro 2020 Qualifying – Andorra had a decent qualifying campaign by their standard, finishing above Moldova in Group H, taking four points from their 10 games. A home win against Moldova, and an away draw against Albania ensured they finished the campaign not bottom of their group, which will have given them some confidence.

History vs Gibraltar – The two nations have never met at senior international level. At club level, both Lincoln and Europa have knocked Andorran sides out of European qualifiers though.


World Ranking – 184th

2018/19 Nations League – Malta finished bottom of Group 3, drawing three and losing three of their six matches in their group. Two draws vs Azerbaijan and one at home to the Faroes on the final matchday was not enough for them to finish third, which in turn sees them in the bottom seeding this time out.

Euro 2020 Qualifying – Malta again joined the Faroe Islands in their qualifying group, and finished bottom again after picking up three points in a solitary victory vs the Faroes. Their only other goal in qualifying came in a loss to Norway, and the Maltese haven’t had the best of times recently.

History vs Gibraltar – The two nations have met once in Faro, and it was an historic one for Gib as Kyle Casciaro’s goal saw Gib win their first game since joining UEFA. The two sides will also meet this month in a friendly match.

San Marino:

World Ranking – 209th

2018/19 Nations League – San Marino had a torrid time of it in League D – they lost all six games and failed to score a single goal; no other team did that in League D. In a group that consisted of Belarus, Luxembourg and Moldova, San Marino were not able to take any scalps – they have failed to win a competitive international since 2004, or avoid defeat since 2014.

Euro 2020 Qualifying – Unsurprisingly, San Marino finished bottom of Group I, but a small upside for them was they at least managed to score once in a 3-1 home defeat to Kazakhstan. They did have a very tough group, containing three teams familiar to Gibraltar as opponents (Belgium, Scotland and Cyprus), as well as Russia.

History vs Gibraltar – The two sides have never met at senior international level. At club level, Lincoln beat La Fiorita 2-0 back in 2018.


Del Rio and Britto to go on trial at UD Las Palmas

Lincoln Red Imps have confirmed this afternoon that teenage duo Julian Del Rio and Ethan Britto have been invited by Spanish side UD Las Palmas for a trial period this coming week.

Photo © Neil Wilson/Lincoln Red Imps

Las Palmas, who already have former Lincoln keeper Jaylan Hankins on their books, will take the pair on trial next week, with both players seemingly set to miss the Gibtelecom Rock Cup Quarter Final vs Boca as a result.

Del Rio, who won FG’s Player of the Month for the National League in January, has had a breakout season this year. After scoring a hat-trick vs Hong Kong U19’s back in September 2019, in an international friendly tournament, the 18-year-old then broke fully into the Lincoln first team set-up, scoring 6 goals in 13 first team appearances, including a hat-trick vs Lynx. The striker has played 501 minutes this season, a notable increase on the 2018-19 season when he managed to get 151 minutes under his belt, including scoring in a 2-0 win on his senior debut, against Gibraltar United back in April.

Meanwhile, Britto, who signed from Mons Calpe in the summer, is a mainstay of Julio Ribas national squad, earning eight full international caps at the age of 19. The teenager, who can play in either left-back or left-wing, scored an impressive free kick earlier in the season against Lynx and has featured 12 times in the league this season, racking up two goals and playing 964 minutes so far this season (only Chino Goldwin and Lee Casciaro have played more minutes of Lincoln’s HGP’s this season).

Should the two be successful in their trial, they would be expected to join Las Palmas subsidiary teams, where the aforementioned Hankins has alternated between the B and C teams this season – most recently being named on the bench for the B team against Real Madrid Castilla.


FIFA rule in favour of Kike over Europa

On the 21st of February 2020, FIFA’s DRC has ruled in favour of the player Enrique ‘Kike’ Gomez Bernal over his ex-club Europa FC.

This case dates back to January 2019 when Kike signed for Lincoln Red Imps from Real Balompedica Linense. It’s alleged that Kike would sign for La Balona on the basis that if he was to return to Gibraltar then Europa would be his first choice.

After only 4 months with the Segunda B side, Spanish media were reporting that Kike was on his way back to Europa but Lincoln was also interested at the time.

Nearing the end of January, Lincoln dropped a huge bombshell when they announced the signing of Kike. The 25-year old would go on to score against Europa on three different occasions and end up lifting the league title with the Imps that season.

Kike, who was represented by Juan de Dios Crespo, currently has 13 goals in 12 games in all competitions for Lincoln who sit third in the Gibraltar National League Championship Group.


Emmanuel Sunday is FG Player of the Week

Lincoln Red Imps striker Emmanuel Sunday is awarded FG Player of the Week as his six-minute hat-trick helped his side on their way to a 7-1 over Lions.

Emmanuel Sunday – Lincoln Red Imps (1st)

Imps came from a goal down to lead 2-1 at half-time against Lions last Friday. A hat-trick in six minutes from their Nigerian striker proved to be the help they needed to comfortably win.

Sunday has shown this season that he has plenty of goals in him and will be a great addition to keep a hold on for next season.

Liam Walker – Europa FC (2nd)

Walker’s excellently taken goal just before the break killed off any hope Magpies had of getting back into the game last weekend. The Gibraltar international also provided an assist in a 5-0 win over Magpies to keep his side five points clear at the top.

Dean Dillion – Europa Point (3rd)

Dillon was the difference for Europa Point against Manchester 62, scoring twice in a 3-1 win in blustery conditions.

The striker is forming a good partnership with Lukas Lindholm for his side and will be hoping to grow that further in the league and cup.

Domingo Ferrer Lopez – St Joseph’s (4th)

Saints’ win over Lynx was made a lot harder than it should have been. Domingo scored the opener in the first half and assisted Juanfri to make it 3-1 in the second half.

Domingo has been an excellent asset since joining the club in 2017 and has formed a partnership with Boro and Juanfri which Raul Procopio would like to keep for the foreseeable future.

German Cortes Narvaez – FC Boca Juniors (5th)

German took his tally to six goals with a hat-trick in Boca’s crazy 7-5 win over College 1975 in the Challenge Group. The Spaniard will be hoping to use this campaign to get back on track after his serious injury, and betting ban, and reach the potential he did with Gib Phoenix and the few months at Gibraltar United.