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Robba: “we have I think the best squad in the league”

We caught up with goalkeeper Jamie Robba to get his reaction on St Joseph’s win over Lincoln Red Imps yesterday, the Gibraltar national team and more.

Second-half goals from Juanfri & Domingo Ferrer Lopez secured Saints a 2-1 win over Lincoln – we asked Robba how he felt the team played, “The team performed exceptionally well, every individual did his part and that gave us the win.”

We asked Robba how confident he feels heading into the league split after the result, “Well against Europa although we played well and dropped two points in the last 5 minutes, we were left with a bitter taste. We know that we have a very good squad but in football, it doesn’t count for anything if you don’t get results. The win against Lincoln confirmed our belief and showed everyone else, that this season, we are here to compete for the title.”

Jamie Robba hasn’t featured for the Gibraltar senior team since 2016 and despite holding the most clean-sheets for any Gibraltarian goalkeeper last season, he is yet to turn the head of head coach Julio Ribas, much to be bemusement of others.

With Matt Cafer & Chino not in the greatest of forms for their clubs, people are starting to wonder if this is Jamie’s time to get that deserved call-up which has eluded him for so long. We asked him if he would welcome a return to the squad, “What Llanito wouldn’t want to be in the national squad?”

St Joseph’s will now go into the league split in the top two – we asked Robba if he feels this current Saints squad is the best he has been involved in and has enough to win the league, “100%. We have, I think, the best squad in the league and by far the best team atmosphere that I’ve ever been around.”

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Gibraltar National League: Team of the Week

Matchday 11 results

  • Glacis United 0-2 FC Boca Juniors (Belmonte, Chico Rubio)
  • Lions Gibraltar 2-5 Europa (Luisma, Caravaca; Yome, Dimas, Juampe x2, Quillo)
  • Lynx 4-0 College 1975 (Badr, Morente, Power, Parody)
  • Europa Point 1-3 Manchester 62 (Ahmedov; Ronan, Montovio S. De Los Santos)
  • Brunos Magpies 0-3 St Joseph’s (Ferrer x2, Boro)

  • GOALKEEPER: John Paul Hernandez (Lions)
  • DEFENDER: Jack Willbye (Manchester 62)
  • DEFENDER: Brad Power (Lynx)
  • DEFENDER: Fede Villar (St Joseph’s)
  • DEFENDER: Francisco Belmonte Rodriguez (Boca)
  • MIDFIELDER: Mikey Yome (Europa)
  • MIDFIELDER: Jose ‘Chico Rubio’ Quiros (Boca)
  • MIDFIELDER: Mohamed Badr (Lynx)
  • MIDFIELDER: Juan Pedro ‘Juampe’ Rico Dominguez (Europa)
  • STRIKER: Robert Montovio (Manchester 62)
  • STRIKER: Salvador ‘Boro’ Delgado (St Joseph’s)
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Walker and Escobar win FG awards in November

After a month where they notched up 24 goals in 3 games, Europa duo Liam Walker and Rafael Escobar Obrero are FG’s Player of the Month and Manager of the Month for November.

Photo © C Correa Photography

FG Player of the Month – Liam Walker (Europa)

There were a number of stand-out performers this month, but Walker gets his nose in front of both Juanfri and Kike to this month’s award, having scored 7 and assisted a further 6 assists in that time. While in truth Europa had three games they were expected to win, they still had to see through these games, and as Glacis proved at times, there was the potential for Europa to slip up as they have done in previous non-title winning season’s. Walker’s contributions last month though ensured they took 9 points from a possible 9 – if he can keep that form up going forward, Europa have a real chance of winning the title.

  1. Liam Walker (Europa)
  2. Juan Francisco ‘Juanfri’ Garcia Pena (St Joseph’s)
  3. Enrique ‘Kike’ Gomez Bernal (Lincoln Red Imps)

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

In truth, it was a toss up between Escobar and Lincoln manager Victor Afonso for this award, with both winning three out of three games, and while some may disagree with the decision, we went for Escobar for the award this month having ensured Europa stay on the right track – should they win their game in hand they would be top of the league. Both Escobar and Afonso are ensuring their respective sides are not allowing any slip-ups against so-called weaker opponents, keeping up a level of performance that has made them two of the main title contenders for the last few season. In third, we opted for Lions manager Albert Ferri – while the quirks of the fixture list meant they only played once last month, he has dragged his Lions side up into contention for a top 6 spot in recent weeks, which is a good effort considering the lack of investment in the side, and recent season’s with more modest league finishes. If he gets Lions into the top 6, then there’s every chance Ferri may win this award next month.

  1. Rafael Escobar Obrero (Europa)
  2. Victor Afonso (Lincoln Red Imps)
  3. Albert Ferri (Lions Gibraltar)
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Gibraltar National League: Team of the Week

Matchday 10 results

  • FC Boca Juniors 1-8 Lincoln Red Imps (Kike x3, Gato x2, Lee Casciaro, Blas Alvarez, Borja Gil)
  • St Joseph’s 5-0 Europa Point (Juanfri x2, Rojas, Domingo, Pedrito)
  • Manchester 62 1-4 Mons Calpe (Ruh; Salas, Carella x2, Vinet)
  • College 1975 1-6 Lions Gibraltar (Hughes; Pomares x2, Luisma, Caravaca, Pecino, Matto OG)
  • Europa 6-2 Glacis United (Juampe x3, Walker x2, Labra; Terranova x2)

  • GOALKEEPER: Jamie Robba (St Joseph’s)
  • DEFENDER: Ethan Jolley (Europa)
  • DEFENDER: Thomas Hastings (Lions)
  • DEFENDER: Andres Salas (Mons Calpe)
  • MIDFIELDER: Antonio ‘Gato’ Ramon Rincon (Lincoln)
  • MIDFIELDER: Ayoub El Hmidi (Mons Calpe)
  • MIDFIELDER: Domingo Ferrer Lopez (St Joseph’s)
  • MIDFIELDER: Juan Pedro ‘Juampe’ Rico Dominguez (Europa)
  • STRIKER: Abraham Pomares Fernandez (Lions)
  • STRIKER: Juanfri Pena Garcia (St Joseph’s)
  • STRIKER: Enrique ‘Kike’ Gomez Bernal (Lincoln)
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How yellow and red cards could decide final Championship Group team

Disciplinary record, or a one-off match, could decide who finishes in sixth place and takes the final Championship Group spot, if Mons Calpe and Lions both end up on 15 points at the end of the first round.

Photo © Rough & Ready

Going by the official league rules (see image below), if teams can’t be separated by points, head-to-head or head-to-head goal difference, then Fair Play rules are applied to separate teams in the league. With Mons Calpe drawing 1-1 against Lions back in September, the first three rules would not be possible to separate them if the two sides were to finish on level points. This would require Mons Calpe drawing against Europa in their final game, and Lions taking six points from their final three matches (vs Europa, Glacis & Boca). Crucially, goal difference does not get taken into account, a rule which came into place for this season after teams benefited from putting double-digit scores past depleted and noncompetitive sides at the end of the season.

The official Gibraltar National League rules from the GFA site, explaining the tie-breakers if teams finish on level points.

The two sides are believed to have similar disciplinary records, with both sides recording 28 yellow cards so far (albeit Lions have played two games fewer than Mons), while Mons have had 1 more red card than Lions. However, they would hold the advantage in that they have less games left to pick up cards than their top six rivals, who would have to be on their best behaviour in the last three games should this outcome occur. Of course, should Mons beat Europa, then this situation would not crop up as Lions would require 8 points from 3 games to finish level with them, which is impossible in the 3 points for a win setup.

Should Glacis beat Lions, they also have a chance of finishing top 6, however their head to head is worse against Mons, having lost 5-0 to them earlier this season, so this scenario could not occur – they would need Mons to lose to Europa, and Glacis to beat Lions, Boca and Lynx in their final three games to qualify.

Should Mons and Lions tie in fair play ruling, a one-off match would have to be fit into calendar, likely with extra time and/or penalties required if necessary to decide who takes the last spot – which would be a thrilling finale to the first half of the season.

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Gibraltar National League: Team of the Week

Matchday 9 results

  • Europa 6-1 Boca Juniors (Walker x2, Yome x2, Juampe, Labra; Formica-Corsi)
  • Glacis United 4-0 College 1975 (Brinkman, Lopez, Londero, Guerrero OG)
  • Lynx 5-0 Manchester 62 (Kokorovic, Gonzalez, Badr, Seatory x2)
  • Mons Calpe 0-6 St Joseph’s (Juanfri x4, Garro, Rojas)
  • Magpies 0-3 Lincoln Red Imps (Coombes, Hernandez, Colubali)

  • GOALKEEPER: Ivan Moreno (Glacis)
  • DEFENDER: Jack Sergeant (Europa)
  • DEFENDER: Ezequiel Rojas (St Joseph’s)
  • DEFENDER: Hrvoje Bukvic (Lynx)
  • DEFENDER: Bernardo Lopes (Lincoln)
  • DEFENDER: Miguel Londero (Glacis)
  • MIDFIELDER: Antonio ‘Gato’ Ramon Rincon (Lincoln)
  • MIDFIELDER: Antonio Gonzalez Garcia (Lynx)
  • MIDFIELDER: Julian Brinkman (Glacis)
  • MIDFIELDER: Mikey Yome (Europa)
  • STRIKER: Juanfri Pena Garcia (St Joseph’s)
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Denmark comfortably beat Gibraltar in Copenhagen

Denmark ran out comfortable winners at the Telia Parken Stadium this evening, as braces from Robert Skov and Christian Eriksen helped them on the way to a 6-0 victory against Gibraltar.

The brace from the Hoffenheim and Spurs playmakers, as well as goals from Lech Poznan’s Christian Gytkjaer and Leganes striker Martin Braithwaite ensured the Danes ran out comfortable winners, ahead of their must-win encounter in Dublin vs Ireland on Monday night.

The hosts looked to control the game from the off but a nervy backpass from Simon Kjaer to Kasper Schmeichel led to a Gibraltar corner which was wasted.

Denmark continued to keep hold of the ball and took the lead in the 12th minute through a scruffy shot from Robert Skov – the wet conditions benefiting the hosts in the build-up to the goal.

Two minutes later and Jayce Olivero picked up the first yellow card of the game – Robert Skov stepped up and blasted his free-kick over the crossbar. Another threatening attack from the hosts saw Mathias Jorgensen come in at the back post and direct his header onto the crossbar. Olivero’s booking means he misses Monday’s match vs Switzerland through suspension, after accumulating three cards in seven group games.

Goldwin prevented Denmark from doubling their lead in the 23rd minute, pulling off a fantastic low save from Christian Gytkjar’s shot. A few minutes later Joseph Chipolina was booked for what looked to be dissent seeing as the defender hadn’t fouled anyone beforehand.

Liam Walker delivered a free-kick into the box which was flicked on by one of the Gibraltar players and brought out a superb save from Kasper Schmeichel but the linesman had put up his flag for offside.

Denmark went into the break leading Gibraltar 1-0.

Two minutes into the second half and Denmark made it 2-0, Christian Gytkjaer capitalised on a misjudgement from Kyle Goldwin to tap the ball into an empty net.

51 minutes in and Denmark made it 3-0 thanks to Martin Braithwaite scoring from a loose ball in the box. Robert Skov got his second of the game and Denmark’s fourth on the 64th minute.

Julio Ribas used all his three substitutions in the space of six minutes with Erin Barnett, Andrew Hernandez & Reece Styche replacing Aymen Mouelhi, Mohamed Badr & Tjay De Barr.

Christian Eriksen got in on the act, scoring a fifth via a deflected effort with just over five minutes remaining in the game, before the classy Tottenham midfielder tapped in a sixth with literally the last kick of the game to repeat the scoreline from the two team’s match at Victoria Stadium in September.

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Big six days of action for Gibraltar’s national sides

The Gibraltar national team, U21 and U19 sides play a combined seven games across the next six days, starting this afternoon with both the U21 and U19 sides in action.

Photo (C) Naps

The matches start this afternoon at 13:00, when the Gibraltar U19s take on Austria in the first of their U19 qualifying triple-header. The game was originally meant to take place yesterday, but due to snow in Austria, where the mini-tournament is being held, both the Gib game, as well as the match between their other two Group 10 opponents Switzerland and Republic of Ireland were postponed, and rearranged for this afternoon instead.

Later in the evening, the first of three matches to be held at the Victoria Stadium will take place, as Gibraltar U21s host Netherlands U21 at 19:00. David Ochello’s side will want to build on what was a battling performance away at Portugal back in September, although it will undoubtedly be tough against a side that can call on players with experience in top leagues, such as Manchester United’s Tahith Chong, and Roma’s Justin Kluivert, who already has two caps for the full Netherlands national team. Entry to the U21 match is free, and you simply have to collect a ticket from the Ticket Office outside the Tercentenary Sports Hall from 5pm this evening.

Tomorrow, the national team takes centre-stage as Gibraltar take on Denmark in their penultimate Euro 2020 qualifier, at the Telia Parken Stadium in Copenhagen. The team trained this morning at the ground ahead of the game, which will be Gibraltar’s final away match of the campaign. Head Coach Julio Ribas made one change from October’s squad, with Bradley Banda coming in to replace Matt Cafer as one of the three keepers. Football Gibraltar are in Copenhagen for the match and we will be bringing you coverage live from the Telia Parken Stadium – make sure to follow us on Twitter (@FootballGib and @FGScoreCentre) for coverage of the press conferences and the match itself.

Steve Cumming’s U19 side have two further qualifiers after today, when they take on Republic of Ireland on Saturday, and then Switzerland on Tuesday – for live score updates of all three games, visit UEFA.com where their score centre will keep you updated.

Monday sees the senior side play their final match of 2019, as they face Switzerland at the Victoria Stadium. With the game expected to be a vital one for the Swiss in their aim to qualify automatically for Euro 2020, there will be a lot on the line for the visitors, who in the reverse fixture won 4-0, albeit largely thanks to a poor eight minute spell where Gib conceded three times just before the half time break. Tickets for that match are limited, and if any remain, you can buy them at tickets.gibraltarfa.com. If you can’t make the game, you can again follow Football Gibraltar’s coverage of the game on social media, including press conferences, open training sessions and the match itself.

Finally, the Victoria Stadium will also play host on Tuesday to Gibraltar U21 v Belarus U21. Ochello’s side will be looking to make up for a shocking reverse fixture, where Belarus put 10 past the Gib U21s in what was probably their worst performance to date. This will also be the U21s final fixture until March, and will present them a chance to try and end a tough 2019 on a more positive note. Like the Netherlands game, entry to this U21 match is free, and the same ticket collection procedure is expected to be in place.

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Gibraltar squad announced for November double-header

Julio Ribas has selected a 23-man squad for the upcoming double-header against Denmark and Switzerland.

Photo (C) Naps

The only change to the original squad from last month’s internationals is the introduction of Bradley Banda, who originally replaced the injured Dayle Coleing after the Kosovo friendly. This time though, he replaces Brunos Magpies keeper Matt Cafer, with Coleing a surprise inclusion given he has only trained once since the injury. Blackburn U23 defender Louie Annesley continues to miss out through injury, after having surgery before October’s internationals – he has yet to return for his club side either so he was never likely to be fit for these games.

The lack of changes again shows Ribas intention to keep a small, tight-nit team together and treat it almost as a club side. With this the last internationals of the year, and with no friendlies currently scheduled in March or June, this could be the last chance for a while Gib fans get to see their national team in action.

The double-header starts with a trip to Copenhagen, where the side face Denmark on Friday at Telia Parken, before facing Switzerland at home on Monday night. The games are both crucial for their respective opponent’s chances of qualifying for next summer’s final tournament.

Tickets for the home game against Switzerland start from £25, and can be purchased at tickets.gibraltarfa.com

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Juanfri and Afonso win FG monthly awards in October

As we get closer to the league split after the first round, St Joseph’s Juanfri and Lincoln manager Victor Afonso pick up Player of the Month and Manager of the Month for October.

Photo © C Correa Photography

FG Player of the Month – Juan Francisco ‘Juanfri’ Garcia Pena (St Joseph’s)

With most of the top 3 only in action once or twice this month, October was never likely to have too much of a say in the title race, but St Joseph’s, who did play twice, made sure they kept up their unbeaten start to the season. With 7 goals in 2 games, as well as consecutive TOTW appearances, Juanfri edges his team-mate Boro, who got 5 in 2, to the top spot this month. Like last season, the vast majority of Saints goals come from this pair, and if they stay fit, they could be key for the title race in 2020.

  1. Juan Francisco ‘Juanfri’ Garcia Pena (St Joseph’s)
  2. Salvador Manuel ‘Boro’ Alegre Delgado (St Joseph’s)
  3. German Cortes Narvaes (FC Boca Gibraltar)

FG Manager of the Month – Victor Afonso (Lincoln Red Imps)

With seemingly so few games in October, this was actually a hard decision to make with regards manager of the month. The only two coaches to win two games were Raul Procopio and Lincoln’s Victor Afonso, but on paper Lincoln’s two games were the harder matches so we’ve chosen to give the Lincoln manager the award for a second consecutive month. A special mention should go to now-former Boca manager Juan Maria Sanchez, who led Boca to a draw and win in October but stepped down from the club this morning.

  1. Victor Afonso (Lincoln Red Imps)
  2. Raul Procopio (St Joseph’s)
  3. Juan Maria Sanchez (FC Boca Gibraltar)