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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.

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Vinet: “I feel like I am improving each game”

We caught up with Mons Calpe midfielder Jaron Vinet to get his thoughts on his sides win over Magpies, aims for top 6 and more.

Three goals in the opening eight minutes saw Mons Calpe beat Magpies 3-1 last Saturday – Jaron reflected on how he felt the team played, “I feel the team played well, especially after our recent run of results in the lead up to it.”

With Mons currently sitting fifth in the table and still to play St Joseph’s, Europa & Lincoln, we asked if he feels confident that his side will finish in the top 6, “Our aim was always to finish in the top six. After getting off to a bad start, we are working on turning things around and finish where we aimed to be at the start of the season.”

Jaron has become a regular figure in the Mons Calpe side this season and has a couple of goals and assists to show for it. We asked how he felt his season has gone so far, “As I mentioned previously, the team did not get off to the best of starts, but are working hard to turn it around. On a personal note, I feel like I’m improving each game and hope to continue this way.”

Gibraltar seniors have two international qualifiers coming up in November and asked what his goals are in the lead up to them, “My aim will always be to get chose for the National Team and hope that the hard work that I am doing on and off the pitch will pay off.”

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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
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Zuniga: “It is going to be a hard game as they also want the Rock Cup like us”

We spoke to Mons Calpe defender Francisco Zuniga about beating St Joseph’s, drawing Gibraltar United in the Gibtelecom Rock Cup semi-final again and his sides season so far.

Zuniga scored the opening goal in Mons Calpe’s 4-1 win over St Joseph’s in the Gibtelecom Rock Cup quarter-final, we asked how he felt the team played, “It was a great game for me, to score and the team, to win. We knew from the beginning that it was going to be a tough game, I think we performed well and made the most of our opportunities.”

A repeat of last season’s semi-final draw sees Mons Calpe take on Gibraltar United – Pako reacted to the draw by saying, “It is going to be a hard game as they also want the Rock Cup like us. We have played them several times and they’ve always been a tough opponent so I think it’s going to be very interesting.”

Mons Calpe currently sit fourth in the Premier Division table, nine points behind St Joseph’s in third and level with Gibraltar Phoenix in fifth. Zuniga reflected on his sides season so far, “We lost some important points at the beginning of the season that we need now. Apart from that, I think we have had a good season but I feel we could have made it better.”

Lastly, Pako commented on whether he feels there’s added pressure on Mons Calpe to win the Rock Cup – he replied, “I don’t think that we have added pressure to win the Cup. Our goal is to finish in third place at least and I’m calm because I know the kind of players that I play with.”

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Gibtelecom Rock Cup Quarter Final: Predictions

The Gibtelecom Rock Cup quarter-finals kicks off tomorrow and here are our predictions.

Gibraltar United vs FC Olympique (Tuesday 12th March – 18:15)

After losing to St Joseph’s last weekend, Gib Utd’s only possible chance of getting into Europe would be winning this year’s Rock Cup. Olympique were unlucky in the final of the Second Division Cup, losing 2-1 to Magpies but with match fitness playing a major factor in their defeat then you’d expect the same to happen again.

Prediction: Gibraltar United win.

St Joseph’s vs Mons Calpe (Tuesday 12th March – 20:30)

A tasty fixture indeed, Saints flying while Mons’ victory over Boca would be a good confidence booster after a poor run of results. Mons have won three of their last five meeting against Saints but with Boro & Juanfri scoring 36 goals between them, you just feel that they’ll play a big part tomorrow night.

Prediction: St Joseph’s win.

Gibraltar Phoenix vs Lions Gibraltar (Wednesday 13th March – 18:15)

Like Gibraltar United, Phoenix’s defeat to Lincoln last weekend leaves them with winning the Rock Cup as their only chance of qualifying into Europe. You would expect Labra and co to sweep aside Lions and progress.

Prediction: Gibraltar Phoenix win.

Brunos Magpies vs Europa (Wednesday 13th March – 20:30)

In an interview with FG, Matheus Assumpcao spoke about how he wished to test himself against Europa and two days later, Magpies’ star-man got his wish. After going unbeaten in the Second Division and winning the Second Division Cup, Europa will be their biggest task this season. We’d be expecting a professional display from the holders as they can’t afford to switch off against Assumpcao, Wyatt and Cuesta.

Prediction: Europa win.

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Mons Calpe & Gib Phoenix remain locked at the top

Mons Calpe and Gibraltar Phoenix Viajes Lineasol both recorded wins last weekend to keep the battle at the top on goal difference while South United secured a top four place.

Mons Calpe 7-4 Newton Stores

Jaydan Parody scored four goals as Mons Calpe cruised to a comfortable win over Newton to remain top of the Futsal 1st Division table – Gibraltar internationals Dylan Glynn, Naoufal El Andaloussi & Zane Holgado all got on the scoresheet.

Lynx 1-4 Gibraltar Phoenix Viajes Lineasol

Mons Calpe were hoping last season’s league winners Lynx would do them a favour and try to get a result against Phoenix but goals from ex-Gibraltar internationals Jamie Pecino & a Joseph Chipol brace sealed an important win.

South United 1-1 Europa

South United announced on social that their draw against Europa mathematically confirmed them a top four finish. Justin Collado gave South the lead before Europa quickly equalised.

A big achievement for a side which was only created three years ago, now to build and go one better next season!

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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.

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Ronco: I feel that with every game I gain more confidence

We spoke to Mons Calpe & Gibraltar U21 international Kevagn Ronco about his return from long-term injury, life in Premier and much more.

After picking up a serious injury in 2015-16, Kevagn Ronco has drifted off the raider in Gibraltar with the odd appearance for Lincoln Red Imps in their reserve league. We asked how it feels to be back playing football, “After a whole year out due to my injury, it feels great to be back playing football. My goal being to recover fully and properly from my injury. I now feel rejuvenated and I’m determined to make my return to football a success. Leading a healthy lifestyle, keeping physically active and Football has always been crucial to me since a very young age , I must admit It was a difficult period for myself not being able to play football for a whole year. Nevertheless I tried to maintain a positive attitude as I knew I needed to be at my best mentally as well as physically. I continued overall conditioning, alternating forms of low intensity training such as swimming and light weight training. I’d set new goals within every session.”

Since joining Mons Calpe last summer; Kevagn has cemented his spot in the unfamiliar right-back position, the midfielder by trade, has started twelve games so far this season. Ronco reflected on life in Premier – “It took me a couple of matches to get the hang of the speed of the gameplay but I knew that within each full 90 minutes or so on the pitch I would gain progress, especially when I’d be on the starting 11 every game. Having represented Gibraltar abroad for the U19/U21, I could anticipate that a high level of responsibility and duty would be expected at Premier. ”

Kevagn’s performances have been very impressive and was re-called to the Gibraltar national team. We asked him about his goals for the season, “As a player my goal is to progress onto the Gibraltar Senior Team and be able to represent my country abroad at the highest level. Overall I hope to develop further as a player, I feel that with every game I gain more confidence. I give it my all in every single match and training session as a player for Mons Calpe and always push myself to the limit no matter how tough the challenge may be.”

Mons’ win over Phoenix last Monday leaves them eight points off leaders Europa and with teams around them all in action between themselves – we asked how important their next game is against Lions, “I believe it would be equally important to beat Lions as it would be to win any team we play against. It is crucial for us now to not lose any matches. However our current goal would be to win Lions as this will enable us to push higher up on the league and put pressure on the teams above us.”

Photo: Neil Wilson

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Premier Division 2018/19 season preview

The just over two month wait is over and today the Premier Division kicks off – below is our season preview with league table predictions and players who we believe you should keep an eye on.  Continue reading