Gibraltar kick off their FIFA Futsal World Cup qualifying campaign this afternoon against England – we caught up with head coach Jose Carlos Gil Prieto as he talks about the preparation leading up to the tournament, what he hopes to achieve and much more.
After being pitted in Group A with England, Cyprus and hosts Latvia; we asked Jose Carlos on his thoughts on the draw – “After 4 years working for the GFA Futsal, first as an assistant to Peter Moreno and this last year & a half as head coach – I could say that the effort made by these players and technical staff has been incredible. With Christmas in between, we have carried on training, despite the problems we always encounter with the allocations (despite the great effort made by the Gibraltar FA). The mix of experience with youth, existing in this team, is probably the best which I have worked with, they are a good group of players and we hope that all the hard-work put in will be reflected in the matches.”
We asked how the preparation has gone in the lead up to the Futsal World Cup qualifiers, “In fact, the preparation has been quite good except for the injuries sustained to Mark Moxham and our captain Andrew Lopez, who are unable to travel with the squad. As I said before, preparation has been excellent especially during December and January as we’ve had practically 20 players, which, on previous occasions, it was very difficult for us to create a stable group. This shows that Futsal continues to grow in Gibraltar as there’s more interest in our selection, both young and experienced players.”
During the UEFA Nations League campaign, Jose Carlos worked closely with Julio Ribas – we asked how it’s benefited him as a coach, “To be honest, it has helped me a lot but not only in the days before the games, but in the day to day of our work (preparation of training, talks, etc). Working with someone like Julio, who has worked at the highest level has been a real eye opener for me. Lastly, I would like to thank Julio and the members of the Gibraltar FA for giving me this precious opportunity.”
Lastly, Jose Carlos gave an insight into what he hopes to achieve from this tournament which sees Gibraltar play three games in four days – “Regarding what I hope to achieve in this qualifier; we are all very clear that the main and most important thing is to give our maximum in each game, to compete at the highest level and continue acquiring international experience. In the result, many other details intervene as can be the rival, luck, etc .., But that does not prevent, that no one will take from us, the immense illusion with which we travel, and although we have to be realistic of the harshness of the rivals, in our mind there is always the maximum demand, which is to get positive results and continue scoring, and for the first time in the history of our federation progress to the next round of the World Cup.”