In their first competitive futsal international, Gibraltar’s Women’s National Team put in a superb performance against Belgium, only being denied on penalties after a 3-3 draw after extra time.
After Kazakhstan’s withdrawal from the group due to not being able to travel to Gibraltar, yesterday’s match became a one-off knock-out match to see who qualified to the Main Qualifying Round of the Women’s Futsal Euro qualifiers. Originally due to be played last May, but rescheduled for this year, Gibraltar’s women’s national team had prepared for over a year for this historic encounter – their first competitive international in futsal, and a youthful team took to the court to face Belgium.
The team all put in great performances, but it would be two Robba’s – twin sisters Caitlin and Shania, who would shine most in Gibraltar’s performance at both ends of the court. Caitlin, who started in goal, was kept busy throughout by Belgium, and on numerous occasions came to Gib’s rescue, including saving a penalty in the final minutes of regular time, while Shania twice scored for Gib, taking the game firstly to extra time and then to penalties.
Despite starting off well, Gibraltar would find themselves 2-0 down inside five minutes, with Tine Van Roie and Pauline Tauquet scoring for the visitors. However, this setback would not halt Gibraltar’s progression, and halfway through the first half, they would get a goal back as Tiffany Viagas, after good play from Robba in attack, halved the deficit and got Gibraltar’s first ever competitive women’s futsal goal.
From that point on, Gibraltar kept on creating chances, spurred on by a capacity Tercentenary Sports Hall crowd which would prove to be one of, if not the biggest crowd seen this year at either a men’s or women’s match. They were then rewarded with an equaliser early in the second half – after Gib caught Belgium on the counter, Robba scored when one-on-one with Zelie Lambert to level the scores. This spurred on Belgium, who began to control possession, but could not find a way past Robba in the Gib goal.
Gibraltar then thought they had won it in the final seconds of the game, when a deflected corner had looked to have crossed the line, only for the Belgian defender to have been called to clear it in time – she took out the goal with her such was the close call, and despite replays seemingly showing the ball had crossed the line, such close margins would be the reason the game went to extra time.
In extra time, Van Roie would put Belgium ahead in the first half, but despite the set-back, Gib fought back, and Robba got her second, and Gib’s third of the evening, soon after to tie the scores once again. Both sides pushed for the win but could not find it, and the game went to penalties, which Belgium went on to win 5-4 – denying Gib what could fairly have been called a deserved victory, however for manager Gayle Langtry and her coaching staff, there is no doubt that they would have been immensely proud of their young team – 7 of their 12-women squad were under the age of 20, and all signs point to a bright future for Gibraltar’s women in the sport.
Gibraltar: C. Robba; Garcia, S. Robba, Viagas, Borrell
Subs: Revagliatte, Ferro, Neale, Salah El-Din, Holt, Victor, Mascarenhas-Olivero
Belgium: Lambert; Courtois, Deneire, Van Roie, Wijns
Subs: Suet, Meeuwis, Godier, Taquet, Taillieu, Meyers, Rosala
Yellow Cards: Viagas; Rosala
Red Cards: None