post

Gibraltar National League Challenge Group review

With the Gibraltar National League halted due to COVID with the Gibraltar FA’s decision to null and void the league after a 2-month suspension – here is our early review of the Challenge Group.


Mons Calpe – 1st

In truth, Mons would have found themselves very disappointed to end up in the Challenge Group in the first place – they must have fancied themselves to finish above Lions and enter the Championship Group.

However, a much-changed and improved Mons had a good 2020, which culminated in reaching the semi-finals of the Gibtelecom Cup and all but securing the top spot in the Challenge Group before the season terminated. The challenge for Mons is to try and settle some of their off-field issues and try to build on their progress in 2020.


Europa Point – 2nd

Compared to their 2016-17 season in the top flight, Europa Point can find plenty of positives especially from January onwards. Ian Hendon and his team hard work reaped its rewards but a 5-5 draw against College 1975 before the suspension, would have left a sour taste in their mouths.

Europa Point will be keeping hold of Hendon and his players but most importantly, finding a good nucleus of HGP’s, the lack of which let them down for most of the season.


Manchester 62 – 3rd

Things were always going to be hard for Manchester, but third in the Challenge Group perhaps reflects where they were in terms of strength in the league. They would have perhaps hoped for Jeff Wood to last longer in the job but struck well in getting David Wilson, another former national manager, as his replacement.

Their commitment to local talent showed in the HGP tally, and Kian Ronan especially impressed, even as a makeshift striker – however Manchester will hope an 11-1 loss to Mons Calpe in their final game was not a sign of things to come next season, and was merely a one-off.


FC Boca Juniors – 4th

An underachieving team, if you look at their squad in the summer. Their lack of funds was their main downfall with most of their players leaving as a result. Boca announced Juan Carlos Camacho as their new head coach in November which lasted until January and following him out the door was their technical team.

Credit to them, the changes made in January were swift and were a competitive side for their level. Europa’s loanees Daniel Tudela and Elias Juel-Saleh were ones which impressed us over a short period of time.


Glacis United – 5th

Glacis suffered from a very stunted start to the season, where they had issues getting players registered in time for the opening games – meaning their Intermediate squad had to fill a lot of the gaps especially against Magpies and Lincoln. This gave them no chance of finishing in the top six, but in the Challenge Group they at least showed they were on the level of the teams around them.

One of Gibraltar’s more well-known teams, Glacis will hope they can get off to a better start next season – as second-bottom of the league will no doubt disappoint them massively.


College 1975 – 6th

After 18 games, College managed to pick up one point in a 5-5 draw against Europa Point – a game which they led 4-0 at one point. 17 straight defeats came previously, a tough lesson learned.

A worrying stat would be finishing bottom and having the least amount of minutes given to HGP’s outside of the top three.

post

Gibtelecom Rock Cup First Round Review

Brunos Magpies edged out Lynx in a fiery encounter while FG correctly predicted Europa Point, Europa, Lincoln Red Imps and Mons Calpe all qualifying for the quarter-final.


FC Hound Dogs 0-10 Europa Point

Maybe not the scoreline which many expected but Europa Point cruised through to the next round. Lukas Lindholm & Dean Dillion both got hat-tricks, Joshua Moody with a brace and a goal each from Cian Collins and Omar El Yettefti sealed the win for Ian Hendon’s side.

Europa Point will hope that the bizarre straight red card shown to Omar El Yettefti is received with the minimal suspension.


Europa FC 12-0 Glacis United

The holders made light work of their opponents with an easy win to progress into the quarter-finals. Team selection by Europa raised a few questions on whether such a strong team was needed, but the big guns came out all guns blazing with Labra scoring four goals.


Lincoln Red Imps 15-0 College 1975

Just like Europa – team selection was at full strength and against the opposition which they thrashed 9-1 in mid-September. With their Intermediate team undefeated, this could have been a chance to show off some of their excellent talents.

Emmanuel Sunday was on red hot form with the Nigerian scoring seven goals.


Manchester 62 1-2 Mons Calpe

Mons Calpe came from behind to secure a spot in the quarter-final thanks to a brace from Argentine striker Diego Diaz. Man62 captain Scott Ballantine put his side ahead but after Diaz’s first goal was adjudged to have crossed the line, he made no mistake when firing a shot past Tomizawa in the second half.

A disappointing result for Man62 who gave it a good fight but with Kian Ronan playing striker for the injured Robert Montovio – it never felt as they would get back into the game after the equaliser.


Lynx FC 0-1 Brunos Magpies

The main game of the round didn’t disappoint as Magpies got revenge for their league defeat to Lynx in January and eliminated them from the Gibtelecom Rock Cup.

An excellent through ball from Brian Perez found the feet of Jaron Vinet and his second-half goal secured a 1-0 win.

After some pushing and shoving at the end of the first half, you knew frustrations would boil over eventually and with 10 minutes remaining, it certainly did. An altercation between Mohamed Badr & Dan Bent ensued with a flurry of yellow cards being shown by the referee. Once everything calmed down, Lynx head coach Albert Parody was sent off which was quickly followed by the Magpies captain Brian Perez.


Europa Point, Europa, Lincoln, Mons Calpe, Magpies will join Boca, Lions & St Joseph’s in the pot for the Gibtelecom Rock Cup quarter-final draw.

post

Gibtelecom Rock Cup First Round Preview

The 2020 Gibtelecom Rock Cup gets underway tomorrow, with Hound Dogs v Europa Point the first of five matches taking place over the next few days – read on for our predictions of all five games.

Photo © Rough and Ready

Hound Dogs v Europa Point:

Europa Point have been resurgent under the managerial guidance of Ian Hendon and come into this one on the back of five games unbeaten – they should in truth have too much for a Hound Dogs side who get their first taste of non-Intermediate League football this year.

Prediction: Hound Dogs 1-5 Europa Point

Europa v Glacis:

It will be interesting to see how Europa approach the cup this year – you’d imagine with the league in their hands they would want to also secure the cup and take the domestic treble, having already won the Pepe Reyes Cup. Their league meeting was a 6-2 victory which in truth flattered Europa, who scored three times in the last 10 minutes vs a tiring Glacis side, but we think, much like vs Lions earlier this year, Europa will show they have learned their lessons of taking teams too lightly.

Prediction: Europa 4-0 Glacis

Lincoln Red Imps v College 1975:

Realistically Lincoln’s final chance of silverware this season, Lincoln may take out their anger of losing back-to-back games on a College side who have yet to pick up a result this season. The league meeting between the two ended 9-1, and we could see a similar scoreline in what may be a lopsided Saturday of football.

Prediction: Lincoln 8-0 College 1975

Manchester 62 v Mons Calpe:

One of the two games which on paper are harder to call, as two Challenge Group teams face off for the second time in a month. In the last meeting, Manchester had more of the ball but were wasteful and lost 3-0 – this time out we see it being a bit tighter with Manchester surely learning some lessons – however we think Mons will have just too much for them.

Prediction: Manchester 62 1-2 Mons Calpe

Lynx v Bruno’s Magpies:

The tie of the round on paper, Lynx take on Magpies having beaten them 3-1 just a couple of weeks ago. Lynx punished Magpies errors in that game, but this one should be a lot tighter with both teams eyeing the cup as their only realistic chance of Europa League qualification this season – this is a game which could easily go to penalties, where we’ve plumped for Lynx to come out on top, just.

Prediction: Lynx 2-2 Bruno’s Magpies (Lynx win on penalties)

St Joseph’s, Lions and Boca all got a bye to the Quarter Finals, but who will join them?

post

Gibraltar National League review

With the first round of fixtures complete and the league split into two groups – here’s our team by team review of how each has performed so far this season.

  • Europa FC (Position: 1st – Championship Group)

Full of confidence from their Pepe Reyes Cup victory, Europa started their league campaign with an emphatic 4-1 win over rivals Lincoln – who they had beaten for the Pepe Reyes Cup, just five days prior.

Apart from their fortunate draw against St Joseph’s, and a couple of minor wobbles against Glacis & Lions, the Greens have rarely looked troubled this season and would arguably be favorites to win the league this season.


  • St Joseph’s (Position: 2nd – Championship Group)

Seen by many as the “team to beat” this season – Saints have really pushed on from their success in the Europa League and become very strong title contenders.

Juanfri & Boro have picked up from where they left off last season with 27 goals so far between them and will be hoping to carry it on into the Championship Group.


  • Lincoln Red Imps (Position: 3rd – Championship Group)

An injury-plagued first few months has left the current league champions in third, four points off leaders Europa and two behind St Joseph’s – both teams which the Imps have recorded losses against this season.

With a replacement of manager on the horizon and the January transfer window opening in a few weeks – the Imps will be looking to spend big and try to turn their current deficit around.


  • Lynx FC (Position 4th – Championship Group)

Unbeaten in their opening five games, Lynx has turned a lot of heads this season by what may be seen as overperforming this season (considering when you look at how much clubs around them are spending).

The Croatian trio of Bukvic, Kokorovic, and Marcius gave Albert Parody the foundation to build a team that he has cleverly done. With his star man Marcius gone, Albert would need to find an ideal replacement quickly, while also find a full-back, which we have singled out as a weak point in his team.


  • FCB Magpies (Position: 5th – Championship Group)

There was a lot of promise surrounding Magpies at the beginning of the season. Last season’s Second Division champions had already been planning for the National League from early this year and looked to be putting a strong squad together.

Any promise was quickly dashed when Magpies were hammered 6-0 by Europa which then followed two straight defeats and the sacking of head coach David Wilson in-between.

The replacement with the experienced Alfonso Cortijo was a great choice and will now see how he fares in January when he is able to clear the deadwood from his squad and bring in his own style of players.


  • Lions Gibraltar (Position: 6th – Championship Group)

After a slow start, Lions managed to pick the pace at the end of October and since then, recorded 4 wins from 5 games to secure a spot in the Championship Group on the final round.

As expected, it will be difficult for Lions to compete against the top three but will be using this opportunity as a time to give valuable experience to Ferri’s younger players – while this is also a great chance to entice sponsors and help the club gain some revenue in the process.


  • Mons Calpe (Position 7th – Challenge Group)

This season has definitely been one to forget for Mons Calpe, compared to others. After competing at the top. the team found themselves scrapping against Lions which they would end up missing out on.

With their financial problems rising up once again, questions have been raised about whether Mons will even put out a team for the second half of the season.


  • Manchester 62 (Position: 8th – Challenge Group)

It looks like a choice between Mons or Man62 for the winner of the inaugural Challenge Group trophy. After Jeff Wood and Juanfran Fernandez Perez, the club appointed David Wilson as their new head coach – one which we feel is the right choice to take this young squad forward.

Wilson would already have an eye on a number of players he’d like to bring in, but one player which he may have trouble trying to hold down is Gibraltar U21 international Kian Ronan who has been excellent so far – we will be surprised if his competitive nature will see him wanting to play in the bottom group.


  • FC Boca Juniors (Position: 9th – Challenge Group)

After pulling together a squad at the expense of Gibraltar United – things looked quite promising for Boca with the squad which they were putting out in pre-season.

But, the lack of team gelling was clear to see, and the wrong choice of manager to go with it – Boca found themselves dropping lower and lower down the table – when you throw in a lack of funding by the final month or two of the season, it’s a good thing they didn’t move up group.


  • Europa Point (Position: 10th – Challenge Group)

The heights which Europa Point once found themselves seem like an eternity away. Now, they find themselves struggling at the bottom of leagues while scratching at results.

Credit to them though, they have found a number of good players, such as goalkeeper Conor O’Keefe, who has been their standout performer while also giving some valuable game time to experienced striker Jeremy Lopez, and 17-year old Omar El Yettefti; we sure clubs will be keeping an eye out on the teenager in the next few years.


  • Glacis United (Position 11th – Challenge Group)

From the glory days of Glacis in the past, the club has been hit with a prime example of how money has changed football. From winning trophies, Glacis now find themselves fighting in the bottom half for most seasons with very little hope of ever returning to what they used to be.

The club has been a stepping stone for players such as Michael Ruiz to get regular action in the top flight, while using the experience of Jonny Di Toro and Michele Di Piedi to pass on their knowledge to their young squad.


  • College 1975 (Position 12th – Challenge Group)

Unfortunately, College has turned out to be the league’s whipping boys with a goal difference of minus 62 and recording heavy defeats on six occasions.

It is quite bizarre when you see 18-year old Zayne Da Costa rarely featuring in the National League, yet he is top goalscorer of the Intermediate League with 10 goals – maybe we will something different from College in 2020.

post

Gibraltar National League: The Christmas run-in

With nearly two-thirds of the first round of fixtures already taking place, and only 24 matches left before the National League splits in two at Christmas, we look at where each of the 12 teams are, and their chances of reaching the top 6 by Christmas and the end of the first round.

Photo © C Correa Photography

1st Place – Lincoln Red Imps – 18 points – 4 games left

100% they will be in the Championship Group. Lincoln’s opening-day loss to Europa has been forgotten about by the side, who have won their next six in a row. The only major challenge left before Christmas will be against St Joseph’s – three points would be important as well as set a market to the rest of the league.

2nd Place – St Joseph’s FC – 17 points – 4 games left

Like Lincoln, Saints will be in the top six. The late draw vs Lynx wasn’t ideal, but St Joseph’s have been good this season and are threatening to make the title-race a three-team affair. As long as they keep the front two of Juanfri and Boro fit and firing, Saints are a match for anyone – a result vs Lincoln before the New Year would be a massive statement of intention.

3rd Place – Europa FC – 16 points – 5 games left

Again, Europa are one of the teams definitely going to the Championship Group. Bar a dramatic draw vs St Joseph’s, Europa have rarely looked troubled all season and if they see through the game vs Lynx with no hiccups, they are likely to be top come the split. January will be interesting for Europa – do they stick with the squad that has served them so well so far, or add one or two players in the window who may potentially be the difference between a title and no title?

4th Place – Bruno’s Magpies – 15 points – 3 games left

Magpies should really be safe now. A little wobble with three defeats in a row raised some doubts over the side, but the back-to-back wins vs Europa Point and Boca means they should get over the line at Christmas. They have hard fixtures vs Lincoln and St Joseph’s to come, but by the time they face Manchester in their last game, we’d be surprised if their top six spot wasn’t mathematically secured. The challenge will be whether they invest even further on new players in January, especially with new manager Alfonso Cortijo undoubtedly wanting some of his own players in.

5th Place – Lynx FC – 14 points – 4 games left

Lynx have a fairly nice run-in in which to accumulate points before the Championship Group, which they seem certain to get into. If they can ensure 7 to 9 points against Manchester, College and Glacis, then Albert Parody’s side will be in a healthy position post-Christmas – the draw vs St Joseph’s showed they can make life difficult for the top three as well and teams won’t necessarily want to play them.

6th Place – Mons Calpe SC – 11 points – 3 games left

Having points on the board is traditionally better than games in hand, as the cliché goes, but it looks like going to the wire for Mons Calpe. Two of their last three games are against St Joseph’s and Europa, making the match vs Manchester 62 a must-win. Even then, 14 points isn’t guaranteed to be enough. They were stubborn vs Lincoln though, and there is every chance of nicking a result against one of the current top 3, but if they don’t, it will be a nervy end to the year for Leo Vela’s side.

7th Place – Manchester 62 – 7 points – 5 games left

Looking purely at the table, you’d say Manchester have the best chance of jumping into the top six from the bottom six sides. However, only one of their last five games is versus a team below them, which make new manager David Wilson’s task that bit tougher. The big two games will be against Mons Calpe and Europa Point – especially the game against Mons – if they can beat the team above them on the 30th November, and follow it with a win vs Europa Point, then they may have a chance of top six, depending on other results.

8th Place – FC Boca Gibraltar – 6 points – 4 games left

Boca aren’t in a bad position table wise, but the fixtures are not too kind to them, given they face Europa and Lincoln in their next two matches. After that though, they’ll need to beat Glacis in order to set up a tantalising final round game vs Lions. Talk of off-the-field issues at the club will need to be shaken off as soon as possible if the club wants to take that sixth spot and work from there in 2020.

9th Place – Lions Gibraltar – 6 points – 4 games left

Whisper it quietly, but Lions could have a chance of sneaking into the top six while no one is watching them. The win against Manchester was vital, not just because it was their first of the season, but because it kept their Championship Group hopes alive. Three of their remaining four games are against fellow bottom six sides, including matches vs Glacis and College, while their final game against Boca could be a winner-takes-all fixture depending on how Mons finish. Albert Ferri has made his team more resolute defensively; if they can improve on their poor scoring form so far, then we may see last season’s 9th place team end in 6th.

10th Place – Europa Point FC – 5 points – 3 games left

Despite only being a point behind Lions and Boca, and only two off Manchester, the lack of games left for Europa Point means that a top six finish in truth seems unlikely. To achieve this, the side would have to beat Manchester and College, while most likely also getting a surprise result against St Joseph’s too. Even then, they would still be relying on other team’s results going in their favour – it isn’t looking promising for Allen Bula’s side.

11th Place – Glacis United FC – 3 points – 5 games left

Glacis have slowly built themselves back up after a heavily disrupted start to the season, and while qualifying for the Championship Group does seem beyond them, they could still have an influence on who does make the top 6. Games against Boca and especially Lions will be tight affairs and if Glacis can take points off those teams, the likes of Manchester and Mons Calpe would be the most likely beneficiaries.

12th Place – College 1975 FC – 0 points – 4 games left

Although mathematically still possible, it is safe to say College are not qualifying for the top 6. Without so much as a point yet this season, they have been up against it from the first gameweek, and realistically these last four games should be used to try and improve where possible ahead of going into the Challenge Group, where hopefully they won’t be on the end of results such as the 12-0 and 9-1 they have suffered in recent weeks.

post

Gibraltar National League 2019 preview

The newly reconstructed Gibraltar National League season is upon us, kicking off today when Lynx take on Mons Calpe at 20:30, so read below our preview, where we attempt to predict the outcome of the league.

Who will win the title? Lincoln Red Imps are looking to retain their crown again, but will face stiff competition from Europa once more, while St Joseph’s, Mons Calpe and newboys Brunos Magpies have all spent heavily to reinforce their squads and try to close the gap.

Who will finish in the top eight? The new inclusion of the “Championship Group” sees the league split and the top seven seperated and battle it out between themselves for the league. The winner particpates in the UEFA Champions League, while the two runners-up move to the UEFA Europa League (depending the outcome of the Gibtelecom Rock Cup).

Your easy choices would be Lincoln Red Imps, Europa, St Joseph’s and Mons Calpe. Gibraltar Phoenix & Gibraltar United’s withdrawal leaves more empty spots to join the aforementioned four teams. We would expect Brunos Magpies to take advantage of this, while joining them would be Lynx and Lions.

The Challenge Group? Manchester 62 should be favourites and will provide tough competition with Lynx & Lions in the Championship Group. Leo announced a host of good signings earlier on in the season and led by Dani Amaya, could be favourites to win the group. College 1975 have been very quiet throughout the summer and if the signing of ex-St Joseph’s & Lions striker Jose Luis Romero is anything to go by, they could be real underdogs to even sneak into the Championship Group.

Europa Point have had a strong finish to their preseason, their only problem would be finding enough HGP’s – they will be hoping they can pick up some from Phoenix & Gib Utd. Boca have been relatively quiet this summer, apart from the announcement of their new head coach Christian Ressa, it’s been a ‘hush hush’ transfer window so it’ll be interesting to see the team they put out on Tuesday night.

Glacis will be hoping their financial troubles behind them and try to reach the heights they did back in 2016, but with players still reportedly stating they are missing wages from the second half of last season looks like it’ll be another long season for them.

Last but not least FC Olympique, a team which looks to be struggling to get a full squad together. However, with their game against Gibraltar United expected to be cancelled, it could actually be a blessing in disguise to give the club more time to bring in much needed players and compete at this level.

Gibraltar National League prediction:

  1. Europa FC
  2. Lincoln Red Imps
  3. St Joseph’s
  4. Brunos Magpies
  5. Mons Calpe
  6. Lynx
  7. Lions
  8. Manchester 62
  9. College 1975
  10. Leo FC
  11. Europa Point
  12. Glacis United
  13. FC Boca Juniors
  14. FC Olympique
post

Gibtelecom Rock Cup Second Round: Predictions

The Gibtelecom Rock Cup second round kicks off tomorrow evening and here are our predictions.

St Joseph’s vs FC Hound Dogs (Wednesday 6th February – 8:30pm)

Saints come into the game on the back of a 8-0 thrashing of Glacis and would be expected to continue that goalscoring form against the side which sit bottom of the Second Division. Raul Procopio’s squad isn’t the biggest so we could see him putting out a strong squad.

Prediction: St Joseph’s win.

Mons Calpe vs College 1975 (Thursday 7th February – 6:15pm)

Just like the St Joseph’s game, this one will probably end up in a quite heavy scoreline. College got beat 5-1 by Manchester 62 in the Cup last weekend, while Mons Calpe will be looking for a confidence booster after their defeat to Gibraltar United. With a bigger squad, Blanco could use certain players from his Intermediate squad for some valuable minutes.

Prediction: Mons Calpe win.

Lincoln Red Imps vs Europa (Thursday 7th February – 8:30pm)

It was raining goals for Lincoln last weekend as they shipped eleven past Boca – Giovanni Rodriguez and Hector Figueroa have impressed since joining in January while ex-Europa forward Kike got himself a hat-trick on his debut. The holders will be hoping to try and get one over their rivals after losing 3-2 earlier on in the season but could see defeat as a blessing with more focus being put into winning the league.

Prediction: Lincoln win.

Manchester 62 vs Gibraltar United (Friday 8th February – 8:30pm)

It has been a difficult few months for Gibraltar United but last week’s win over Mons Calpe could be the turning point needed and they’d hope to continue it against Manchester. The Red Devils invested well in January and it showed in their Cup win against College with ex-Gib Utd striker Robert Montovio getting on the scoresheet but their number one keeper Christian Lopez saw red which will give them a problem going into the game.

Prediction: Gibraltar United win.

Lynx vs Gibraltar Phoenix (Saturday 9th February – 4pm)

This one could be a very interesting tie; two sides doing well at the moment with Phoenix slightly edging it with more goals scored. Lynx have proved to be a tough test to Lincoln and Europa in the last couple of weeks so their opponents should not take them lightly.

Prediction: Phoenix win on penalties.

Glacis United vs Lions (Saturday 9th February – 6:15pm)

Lions will be looking to exact revenge after their 3-1 loss in January, it was quite an even game until conceding an own goal just before half-time which ultimately changed the game. Glacis will be hoping to welcome Alan Parker and Nacho Fernandez back into the squad while Mariano Pereira and Courtney Lewis miss out through suspension.

Prediction: Lions win on penalties.

Europa Point vs FC Olympique (Saturday 9th February – 8:30pm)

Another interesting encounter -, both teams in good form and in with a good chance of progressing. Europa Point will be happy to welcome back their main man Cristian Nunez Chaves from suspension while their opponents come into the game off the back of a whopping 12-3 win over Leo in the 2nd Division Cup.

Prediction: Olympique win on penalties.

FC Boca Juniors vs Brunos Magpies (Sunday 10th February – 4pm)

Magpies did take a heavy hit to their squad in January but with a front three of Assumpcao, Wyatt & Cuesta – it doesn’t really matter what is behind you, they are that good. Yet to be properly tested in the Second Division, Dave Wilson’s men will be looking at the Rock Cup as a idea of where the club is going ahead of next season. It will be another difficult task for Boca and one which we don’t see them winning.

Prediction: Magpies win.

post

Second Division 2018/19 Season Preview

Tomorrow sees the Second Division kick-off, with seven teams after Cannons folded and Angels were denied re-admission. With some strong teams taking part in the league, we take a look at each team and give our thoughts on where they’ll finish – who do we think will take the trophy Boca won last season?

Photo (C) William Gracia

Continue reading

post

Gibtelecom Rock Cup Final rematch on opening matchday of the season

The opening matchday of fixtures in Gibraltar sees a repeat of last season’s Rock Cup final, while Manchester 62 begin life in the Second Division by taking on Hound Dogs.

Photo © William Gracia

Continue reading

post

FG Awards: Second Division