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UEFA rearranges Lincoln v Prishtina for Saturday

UEFA have today chosen to rearrange yesterday’s postponed Lincoln v Prishtina match for Saturday, however Prishtina will be required to send an entirely different team to the one that was in Gib yesterday.

Photo (c) Lincoln/Neil Wilson

Despite it being originally believed Lincoln would get a 3-0 walkover after eight Prishtina players tested positive for Covid-19, UEFA have instead rearranged the match for Saturday but told Prishtina they must take a completely different team to Gib.

It seems that the Kosovar team will be allowed to draft in players from its rival domestic teams, with a statement by the club saying: “FC Prishtina publicly thanks the teams of Feronikeli, Llap, Trepça ’89, Flamurtari, Balkan, Drenica and Vushtrri that have urgently come to the aid of Prishtina.”

This twist follows a similar case in the Champions League this week, where Slovan Bratislava are facing the same rules in their rearranged match away at Faroese side Klaksvik.

A date and kick-off time, albeit again behind closed doors, is to be announced soon.

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Prishtina release statement regarding positive tests

FC Prishtina have released a statement this evening in regard of their postponed match with Lincoln Red Imps which was supposed to be played today.

Only a couple of hours before kick-off, Lincoln Red Imps’ tie with Prishtina was called off with the visitors reportedly recording “5 to 8 players” testing positive with COVID-19.

After much uncertainity, FC Prishtina released the following statement:

“Gibraltar authorities did not allow the match to be held.

FC Pristina, according to UEFA recommendations, was tested in advance three and four days before the match on August 14 and 15 All IKSHPK results for 41 club expedition people had turned out negative with an official completed report.

According to UEFA recommendations, the match test should be done 72 hours before the meeting starts and the same was done at the premises of Gibraltar airport with the team arrived yesterday, Monday, August 17th.

After more than 27 hours, the team has accepted the result of the UEFA licensed lab ′′Synlab” on the occasion of 8 football players have turned out positive.

FC Pristina had 14 players available (without two reserve goalkeepers) and fulfilled the condition of the UEFA protocol that the match could take place with 13 + players.

But the alarmed authorities of Gibraltar have not allowed such a thing until the club is informed by the match delegate.

The match delegation and the official UEFA itself has not taken any decision.

FC Prishtina, after they stop by local authorities, has released the hotel and is located in the premises of Gibraltar airport where during the evening it will fly to Pristina.

FC Pristina is waiting for the decision by UEFA.

FC Prishtina announces that all requests from UEFA have been accurate. We consider that according to the protocols required by UEFA, the match had to take place. FC Prishtina has announced directly to the UEFA delegate, and will soon inform the highest European football body.

FC Pristina will test its expedition again after returning to the capital and after comparing the test results it will raise its voice to the highest European football instances.”

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Lincoln Red Imps v Prishtina: Preview

William Amaral de Andrade begins his Lincoln managerial career with a home tie against FC Prishtina at 1800 in the Victoria Stadium.

After a summer clear-out of nearly half their squad and their head coach, Lincoln will be hoping for a fresh start today as they look to improve after last season. It is still unclear on the formation and tactics William will use today but one thing is for certain, we can expect quick and attacking football throughout.

Prishtina is very familiar with Gibraltarian football with the Kosovar side already played against Europa & St Joseph’s in previous years. It’s alleged that the visitors could be missing 5 to 8 players due to complications so there are big uncertainties within the squad ahead of kick-off.


Betting

Lincoln goes into the game as 4/1 underdogs, despite having home advantage, and Prishtina having failed to win their previous two matches in the Victoria Stadium, while the visitors from Kosovo are 8/13 to qualify in 90 minutes. A popular bet, Both Teams To Score, is currently a 10/11 shot, while if you think Lincoln will qualify but may need extra time or penalties to do so, you can back them at 23/10 to qualify for the next round by any means.


Predicted lineups:

Lincoln: Lolo; Wiseman, R.Chipolina, Bernardo, Britto; Sergeant, Yahaya, Torrilla; Hernandez, L.Casciaro, Kike

Prishtina: Bekaj; Bardhoku, Maliqi, Haliti, Abazi; Zyba, Kraniqi, Uka, Korenica, Mankenda; Januzi

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Sergeant: “The team is in a positive mindset”

We caught up with Gibraltar international Jack Sergeant about life under new Imps head coach William Amaral de Andrade, tomorrow’s Europa League game and more.

Jack joined Lincoln this summer from title rivals Europa – we asked him to sum up his time at the Greens, “I thoroughly enjoyed my first season back in Gibraltar with Europa FC. We had a very strong side as we went unbeaten all season and ended at the top of the table before COVID-19 occurred. On and off the pitch, I had a great relationship with both players and staff, and I take with me good memories. My decision for leaving this season was not an easy one, however, I wish them the best of luck.”

Two years after departing Mons Calpe, William was appointed as head coach of Lincoln Red Imps. We asked Jack about life under his new manager, “We have now been training for over 6 weeks in preparation for the Europa League. Training has been positive yet intense under William. Having to catch up physically while installing and perfecting the new manager’s tactics and ideas has been a challenge after being inactive for so long. I feel the team has caught on very quickly to William’s philosophy of playing and I am excited to see where this takes us in the competitive games to come.”

Lincoln begin their UEFA Europa League campaign tomorrow at 1800 against FC Prishtina in the Victoria Stadium – we asked Jack how the team feels going into tomorrow’s game, “The team is in a positive mindset, we have done all we can in training considering COVID-19 and the restrictions it has posed. Playing friendlies has helped bring us back into the competitive mindset that we need to be in. We have a very strong squad of players who are all motivated to get back on the pitch, and with the home advantage of playing at Victoria Stadium we will do our best to win the game.”

Lastly, we asked Jack what his hopes are for this season – “Firstly, we would like to get as far as we can in the Europa League. Next, our focus will be to win the league as well as domestic cups. Regarding the National Team, the nations league is coming up where we face San Marino and Liechtenstein. Having already beaten the latter, our goal is to beat both and top the group. Overall, I am excited about what this new season will bring.”

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Del Rio attracting interest from abroad

One of Lincoln Red Imps’ hottest prospects Julian Del Rio could be leaving the club this summer with the 18-year old attracting interest from Spanish teams.

Julian broke onto the senior scene back in April 2019, scoring in Lincoln’s 2-0 win over Gibraltar United. Three more appearances that same season gave Del Rio a little taste of what is to come for the youngster.

The 2019/20 season was one which Julian took full advantage of with 20 goals in 24 appearances in all competitions. Most notably, Julian scored a hat-trick in Gibraltar U19’s 3-2 over Hong Kong in September 2019.

The interest from Spain follows his trial with UD Las Palmas, any move is expected to be compared to that of Tjay and Jaylan in terms of joining the youth ranks and building his way to the senior side.

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Part Two: Daniel Duarte

Part Two of our three-part series with ex-Lincoln Red Imps and Gibraltar national team captain Daniel Duarte sees us talk about life at Imps, his move to Manchester 62 and more.


1) How did you find the transition from youth to senior football?

Throughout my time at Lincoln, I always found it to be a Club that was good at bringing young talent into their first team. They had an excellent way of doing this: the U16 team often played in the 4th Division with some older players, like Mick McElwee, whilst still playing in the U16 League.

As a junior, I also played alongside senior players; during this time, the Lincoln U16 team managed to win the 4th, 3rd and 2nd Division. I think this was largely down to us getting a lot of experience in playing at a faster pace and making stronger challenges with the seniors. It was, in my opinion, the perfect way of developing a player and essential for the transition from youth to senior football.

2) How was the support towards you whilst breaking into the Lincoln team?

Honestly, I have had unbelievable support at every level whilst playing for Lincoln. For example, whilst playing for the U16 team, I also played for U18s (who were in the 4th Division at the time), where I had the privilege of playing alongside player-manager Mick McElwee. Mick is one of the best players in the Club’s history and in Gibraltar football, and he supports me and every youngster coming up with a lot of patience.

I also played with the Lincoln Wolves reserve team, who were in the 2nd Division. The team was made up of all the Lincoln legends that had retired from the first team – players like Mario Vela, Francis Caruana, Joseph Payas, Adrian Pozo, to name a few. They were all very experienced players, and I learned tremendously from playing alongside them. At the same time, my cousin, Ernest Galliano, as well as Dennis Lopez and Daniel Bonfilio were playing in the first team, and these three helped keep my feet on the ground and my head on my shoulders. I can only thank those players that helped me along the way. A special thanks to my cousin Ernest ‘el Chori’ Galliano for everything he’s done for me all these years and without him, nothing would have been possible.

3) Lincoln dominated football in Gib for many years – how did it feel being part of that squad?

It wasn’t always a dominant side; it took the Club many years to build up an excellent team. In fact, the team played together for at least 5 years before we won our first league, which was back in 2000/2001. This was a special squad; we had players with amazing willpower and, as we like to say in Gib, with AMOR PROPIO, they were players who truly committed to their Club and the sport.

Dominating football for over 14 years is not easy. But being part of the squad was like being part of a family, and playing with family and friends makes everything much easier. It was an amazing feeling knowing that your hard work and your commitment was paying off. The closeness and support felt on the pitch were mirrored off the pitch too, whatever problems we had, personal or professional, we knew that we could always rely on our teammates.

It was a privilege to be part of the squad and something very special to me – not only for dominating football and winning titles but also because I knew that I had the full support of my teammates and managers.

4) What is your favourite memory in a Lincoln shirt?

I couldn’t honestly say what my favourite memory is, but I have a few that are particularly special to me. One of them has to be my debut for the first team, another is my first league title. Another noteworthy moment was playing for Lincoln in the Champions League, where we were the first Gibraltar team to play in the competition.

One other undeniably special memory of being at Lincoln was when we finally achieved our 10th consecutive league title – breaking Glacis United’s record of 9 consecutive wins. As well as being one of my favourite memories, it is also one of Gibraltar’s best memories and I remember lifting the Rock Cup, which was presented to me by the UEFA president, Michel Platini. It was an unforgettable moment!

5) How would the Lincoln sides you’ve been in compare to now?

It’s difficult to compare, especially when you are not involved with the Club. But, as I said before in our conversation for Part One of this series, I feel that back in my day we had much more commitment and put in the hard work. I think that this is what teams nowadays are generally lacking. Don’t get me wrong, some players are very committed, but it’s difficult to get a team of 18 players committed to a Club without any money involved.

Over the past couple of years, there have been several very talented players at the Club, most notably Roy Chipolina and Lee Casciaro. But this is nothing that we didn’t have back in my day. In my opinion, we not only had our Roy and Lee equivalents, but there were also eight or more players with the same quality as Lee and Roy and, due to the strength of the squad, but it was also extremely difficult to select the first 11 players.

6) What was the thinking behind your move to Man62?

Mick McElwee and Stephen Head had left the team and Lincoln was planning to become a more professional set up: this included an increase in the number of weekly training sessions and having to travel to Spain for further training. For 20 years, I was always committed to the Club, but I couldn’t commit to the new level of professionalism the Club wanted from me.

My dream was to play for the national side in a European qualifier, which meant that if I couldn’t commit to Lincoln’s training sessions, I wouldn’t have the same opportunity of playing first-team football and, with no first-team football, it would have been impossible for me to play for the national side. It was a catch-22 situation and we weren’t able to agree on the terms and conditions for my new contract. So I decided to move on to a new challenge and joined Manchester 62 F.C.

I decided to join Man62 for many reasons; first of all, I could commit to the Club’s project and it was easy to reach an agreement over my contract. Man62 has always been a Club that focuses on developing young players – very similar to Lincoln in away. Its squad has a lot of youngsters coming through into the first team, and I’ve always wanted to pass on my experience to local youngsters, just as I had received guidance and support from my seniors when I was a junior.

Signing for Man62 also meant that I could play one more season at my highest level: it was up to me to perform and impress in order to achieve my dream of playing at a European qualifier. Whilst at Man62, I managed to make this dream come true and I will be always grateful to Clive Lopez, John Charles Camilleri and David Ochello for giving me the confidence and opportunity to represent Man62 in my last football season.

7) How would you sum up your time at Lincoln?

It is impossible, to sum up, 20 years of my life in one interview. To cut a long story short, I’ve had a very successful career on the pitch, winning many titles and even breaking a record! There have been good and bad days; it’s been an emotional journey, a journey where I’ve met some great people, as well as others that have let me down. But, I have a positive way of thinking and like to focus on the positive parts of my time at Lincoln. This saying, I think, really sums up my experience:
There are friends, there are family, and then there are friends that become family.

8) Who was the toughest opponent you ever came across in the league?

Probably Glacis United, they always had excellent players like Kevin De Los Santos, Keith Laguea, Al Greene, Dylan Moreno, Aaron Payas, Peter Moreno and many others. It is a club with an extra level motivation, especially in defending its record of 9 consecutive league wins. Glacis United was a very tough team; a very difficult team to beat and we always had to perform at a high level to win against them.

9) Was there a teammate who you would always want to play with, but never against?

The first name that comes to mind is the legend, Lee Casciaro. I don’t need to explain what Lee does on a football pitch, his reputation speaks for itself and we have seen through the years the talent that he has. But Lincoln, as I’ve said before, has always had impressive players – players that humiliate you at training with ease, such as Roy Chipolina, Brian Perez, Robert Guiling, Pitu Anes, Dwayne Robba, Christian Sanchez, Graham Alvez and many others. In my opinion, the hardest games played were always when we trained together – on a good day anyone could be your worst nightmare.

10) How would the old Lincoln fare in today’s league?

It’s difficult to compare; we had a very talented team with very little resources and broke every single record in Gibraltar football history, and we did this with only hard work and commitment. With that hard work and commitment as well as the resources that teams in Gibraltar have nowadays, I would like to think that my old team would definitely be challenging for the league title and playing for the national side.

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Lincoln sign Gibraltar international Scott Wiseman

Lincoln Red Imps have this afternoon announced the signing of Salford City and Gibraltar defender Scott Wiseman on a two-year deal.

Photo (C) Rough and Ready

Wiseman, who has played his whole career in England, joins Lincoln on a two-year deal after leaving Salford on a free transfer after the termination of the English League Two season.

The 34-year-old, who can play at right-back or centre-back, has 10 caps for Gibraltar, but hasn’t featured since a 6-0 defeat to Belgium back in 2016 – however, Wiseman, talking to the official Lincoln website, said: “Earlier this year I would have been playing for the national side again”, presumably referring to the cancelled March international friendlies against Malta and Liechtenstein. His return would give another option, and one with vast experience, to Julio Ribas side ahead of the upcoming Nations League.

Wiseman, on Lincoln’s official site, continued by saying: “I’m absolutely delighted to finally get things signed. After having countless conversations with the club about coming over, it was an easy decision for myself and my family to make.” With nearly 500 appearances in English football, from the National League to the Championship, the defender will add a lot of experience to the Lincoln team for the upcoming season.

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Gibraltar National League Championship Group Review

With only four games remaining, the Gibraltar FA called off the league making it null and void. The European spots were handed out but no league winner announced. Here is our early review of the Championship Group.

Europa FC – 1st

While not being crowned champions has clearly left a very bitter taste in the mouths of all at Europa, they should no doubt still be happy at how their season went until the point of the league being terminated. From their opening week, eye-catching 4-1 win against Lincoln, Europa went on to be virtually unstoppable in the league, bar for a dramatic 2-2 draw against St Joseph’s in September which they were lucky not to lose.

They were of course expected to challenge for the title strongly, but few would have perhaps expected them to be unbeaten – past Europa sides have had a habit of very avoidable defeats that have cost them in the league dearly, but this Europa side, even when going behind in games, never looked like losing 99% of the time.

The emergence of Dayle Coleing in goal was a major plus for Rafael Escobar’s side, while the signing of Juampe from Balona was an inspired addition to a team who have never had trouble scoring. The plan for next season will be to try and maintain those levels, with St Joseph’s and Lincoln likely to be champing at the bit hoping to bring Europa down a peg or two.


St Joseph’s – 2nd

After years of coming so close in breaking the top two’s league dominance, Saints finally reached their potential this season. Sitting in second, five points behind Europa and five points in front of Lincoln with four games remaining.

Overall their season exceeded expectations – their Europa League campaign was memorable, came within minutes of beating Europa but would draw 2-2 in the final minute and did the league double of Lincoln.

The most important bit for Procopio and his men is to keep the same momentum and consistency going into whenever football restarts in Gibraltar.


Lincoln Red Imps – 3rd

For a team who have for so many years been the all-conquering, dominant force of local football, a third-place finish for Lincoln is disappointing – in fact, it is the first season they haven’t finished in the top two since the 1999/2000 season, where they finished fourth in a six-team league.

While they continued to beat the teams below them, normally with some ease, Lincoln came unstuck against both Europa and St Joseph’s, losing all four meetings against their title rivals. This saw their title hopes drift away in February, but there were some positive signs for the club, most notably the emergence of Julian Del Rio into the first team.

Next seasons aim for Lincoln has to be to appoint the right manager, after German Crespo’s departure earlier this week, and try to keep them in charge for a longer period than their last few managers – they have the squad, especially in attack, to challenge for titles, but stability is key if Lincoln wants to climb back on top of local football once again.


Lynx FC – 4th

Lynx was another team that started the season great, a 4th place finish is their highest since the 2014-15 season. Their three Croatians Hrvoje Bukvic, Ed Kokorovic, and Marko Marcius would play a big role in round one of the Gibraltar National League. Their departure would leave a big hole in the team and the results would show it with two wins from six games.

It has been a positive season for them though, Jaydan Parody has shown potential this season and Mohamed Badr has made the Gibraltar national team.


Brunos Magpies – 5th

Round one of the National League saw Magpies achieve their top half aims, albeit it was far less comfortable than expected, and saw the departure of David Wilson as manager, a move which proved unpopular among Magpies fanbase and seemed to hurt their attendances and atmosphere for a while after. They weren’t then helped by Alfonso Cortijo joining, only to leave for a job in China two months later, but he at least ensured they finished in the top six before the split.

Magpies issue seemed to be in beating the teams above them, with only a solitary cup win vs Lynx to their name vs the top four, so 5th place is a deserved finished, and perhaps around where the club would have hoped to finish, despite significant investment in both the summer and in January. Tight battles with St Joseph’s just before the league ended showed some hope they can battle with the big boys, presuming they don’t chop and change the squad too much this summer.


Lions Gibraltar – 6th

You can’t judge Lions’ season from their results in the Championship Group, with their financial resources not as strong as the others – the team itself knew what they were getting themselves into with a sixth-placed finish.

Lions did put in cracking performances in the Group and were unlucky not to get points on a couple of occasions. Looking at it from an overall perspective, Albert Ferri and his team showed great promise and that they don’t need to play so defensively to gain results.

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Chipolina: “Not the recovery we expected”

We spoke to Joseph Chipolina about his recovery from injury, a review of Lincoln’s season and more.

Just before the GNL took a break for Christmas, Joseph Chipolina suffered an injury in Lincoln’s 2-0 win over Manchester 62. We asked the 32-year old how his recovery has gone, “Not the recovery we expected as we have had a little setback. I will need some manipulation and little surgery clean up as my knee won’t bend as it should. But all in all still doing what I can and building the quads up.”

With Covid bringing a halt to football in Gibraltar, we asked Joseph what he is doing during these tough times – “I am training 2 times a day one at lunchtime and one just before dinner time roughly at 19:45. I can’t really do cardio so what I am doing are workouts which I can do with my knee as it is.”

Before Covid brought a halt to the GNL – Lincoln were third, five points behind St Joseph’s in second, ten points behind rivals Europa in first and in the Gibtelecom Cup semi-final. Joseph reviewed his side’s season, “It hasn’t been the best of seasons but these things happen in football. Too many changes within the club etc but always for the best of the club, but all in all it is what it is and another year where we learn as a club and move on for our next challenge together as one.”

Nearly six months on from Gibraltar’s Euro 2020 qualifying campaign, which ended in a defeat to Switzerland at the Victoria Stadium, Joseph reviewed Gibraltar’s campaign – “I think we did quite well on some games; maybe on others we could have done better but that all comes down to us players maintaining our A-game all throughout the games. Lack of concentration is what is letting us down but we have improved vastly since the arrival of Julio Ribas who is an amazing coach and person.”

Lastly, we asked Joseph about any goals he has set for himself – “At this moment in time my goals are to try and play football again. My injury was a very harsh one, I had my ACL torn into bits, had my ICL torn 60%, had Both Interior and Exterior Meniscus torn, and my patellar dislocated, aggravating the patellar tendon. So my goal is to get as fit as I can and try to make it back on the field and keep doing what I most enjoy and love.”

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Torrilla: “I look forward to repaying them in the future”

We spoke to 22-year old midfielder Graeme Torrilla about his injury, new club Lincoln Red Imps and more.

Nine months on from his operation which has kept him out of football for just over one year, we asked Graeme how his rehabilitation is going – “Rehabilitation is going well but took a while to get going as in the previous club, I was never given the full support or facilities required to recover from such a big injury.”

Recovering from injuries is never easy and with Covid-19 bringing a halt to everything worldwide – we asked him how he is keeping active during these tough times, “I was reaching the final stages of my rehab just before quarantine began. Mainly pitch work, which is something I’m unable to do now. I’m mainly sticking to exercises at home & going for a jog or bicycle ride to remain as active as possible.”

Graeme joined Lincoln Red Imps from Mons Calpe this January, a big move for a promising talent – the 22-year old told us how the club is playing a big part in his comeback, “Lincoln has not only offered me the facilities needed but also their full support in allowing me to take the time I need to get back on the pitch when fully recovered. I look forward to repaying them in the future.”

Lastly, we asked Graeme what his goals are when he returns to full fitness – “For starters, I want to get back to the level I was at before my injury which will take time having been out for so long. Then from there just aim as high as possible to perform at my best at club level & hopefully at international level if given the chance.”