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Mouelhi: St Joseph’s showed this season we are competing for and fighting until the end for both the league and the cup

FG caught up with St Joseph’s defender Aymen Mouelhi about life at Saints this season, his sides chances in the league and cup this season, and more

Photo © Vanessa Correa

Mouelhi joined St Joseph’s in the summer after Gib United went out of business, so how has his time so far at his new club been? “As from the first training session I felt at home. The players and technical staff helped me to integrate very well into the group – the only problem was that I broke my wrist and that made my debut with the team a bit delayed as I recovered. Apart from that everything was good”

The defender has also found himself regularly in a defensive midfield position for both club and country this season, helping to shield the backline – has this versatility helped his career? “I try to give my all and help the team. It doesn’t matter which position I play and I think as a player you need to be used to playing in serval positions, so you can have more chances to get more minutes, so it was a good advantage for me.”

Saints are still in the battle for the league and the Gibtelecom Rock Cup this season, so does the 33-year-old feel his side can end the season with silverware? “St Joseph’s showed this season we are competing for and fighting until the end for both the league and the cup, which didn’t happen in the last few years. We are taking every game as a final so hopefully, we finish this season with a trophy as everything depends on us.”

Finally, what are Mouelhi’s goals for 2020? “On the personal, I’m aiming to win a trophy with St Joseph’s, and carry on representing and defending Gibraltar In the upcoming international matches. I wish peace and health for the whole world and everything goes back better than before.”

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Gibtelecom Rock Cup quarter-final review

The Gibtelecom Rock Cup quarter-finals brought no surprises as Mons Calpe, St Joseph’s, Europa and Lincoln Red Imps progress into the next round.


Mons Calpe 3-1 Europa Point

Mons rushed into an early two-goal lead against Europa Point, with Diego Diaz and Andre Dos Santos scoring in the first ten minutes before things settled down a bit more.

Europa Point was out of the traps early in the second half and got a goal back thanks to Diego Vera’s header, but their chances of a comeback were ended after Samuel Vermeeren’s own goal, and captain Antony Moulds late red card.

Mons is the only Challenge Group team left in the cup, and while they are now rank outsiders, they will look to make the cup final for the second time in three years.


St Joseph’s 1-0 Brunos Magpies

If last weekend’s encounter was anything to go by, we expected a fiery contest and certainly got it. With the level of football being played below par, both teams didn’t hide away from any strong challenges.

Juanfri scored from the penalty spot to send 10-man Saints, who had Angel Guirado sent off, into the semi-final since 2017 but it was the altercation after the final whistle which was the main focal point.

An altercation between Kelvin Morgan and Juanma Gonzalez spurred on a brawl between both teams which took quite some time to calm down – a situation which you’d believe the Gibraltar FA will investigate further.


Europa 2-0 Lions

The Rock Cup holders went safely through to the semi-finals thanks to goals from Fernando Velasco and Manuel Dimas. The Green found it tough to break the well-organised Lions defence, an improvement from their 7-0 defeat last weekend.

Europa will need to be much better for Saturday when they come up against St Joseph’s – a doubt for that match could be Olmo who came off early with a suspected groin injury.


Lincoln 6-0 Boca

As expected, Lincoln beat Boca, by a score of 6-0 on Sunday afternoon. Boca made them work for it, but Pibe’s brace and Jamie Coombes first-half goal meant at the break the game was all but done.

Boca gave Lincoln a slight scare in winning a penalty, but they missed from 12 yards, and that led to Lincoln making sure there was to be no hint of a comeback – Oli, Gato, and Blas Alvarez all scored in the second half to put an end to a spirited Boca side, who before the game may have been fearing a bigger scoreline.

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Cano: “The team worked very well for yesterday’s victory”

FG spoke to St Joseph’s defender Francisco Cano about yesterday’s win against Lincoln, life at his new club and more.

Cano reflected on St Joseph’s 1-0 win over Lincoln Red Imps thanks to a second-half goal from Domingo Ferrer Lopez, “The team is very happy with the result because it was a very important game for us and the team worked very well for yesterday’s victory.”

We asked Fran how yesterday’s win will motivate his side in the second round of the Championship Group, “Yesterday’s victory gives us even more motivation to continue fighting for our goal. Beating our direct rival gives us even more motivation to face the final stretch of the league with enthusiasm and strength to keep fighting.”

The 28-year old joined St Joseph’s last summer from Gibraltar Phoenix – we asked Cano how he’s found it at Saints, “The truth is that since I joined St Joseph, they welcomed me very well and I am very happy here. I am enjoying a good spell at the moment and I want to continue contributing and helping the team in every way possible.”

Cano is largely known for his time at Glacis United before joining Phoenix in January 2018, then Saints in the summer of 2019 – we asked how it feels playing in such a competitive team with experienced players such as Juanfri, Pecci and so on, – “I feel very good and comfortable. I always like to play in a team that competes for everything like St Joseph’s and with players of that level, you always learn from them by having them by the side.”

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Raul Procopio signs new long-term St Joseph’s contract

Ahead of tomorrow’s crunch match with Europa – St Joseph’s manager Raul Procopio & his backroom staff have signed new long-term contracts at the club.

Raul Procopio Baizan joined St Joseph’s in December 2016, from Chiclana CF but will be well remembered from his triumphant time at Lincoln Red Imps from 2014-2016.

The Cadiz-born coach has been in charge of Saints for 97 games and won 58, losing 24 and drawing 15 – fans will be hoping he can make it 59 wins against title rivals Europa tomorrow.

Procopio has been instrumental in St Joseph’s progression over the years alongside hard-working individuals such as Juanjo Bezares, John Paul Hendrick and Stuart Rodriguez.

The club has qualified for Europe for two consecutive seasons, most notably the 2018/19 season where after finishing 3rd, they defeated Prishtina in the first round – going on to play Scottish giants Rangers – managed by none other than Steven Gerrard.

Saints have an excellent chance of putting an end to the continued dominance of Lincoln & Europa – an unfortunate draw in the final few minutes against the latter and a win against the former leaves the team second in the Championship Group.

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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.

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Robba: “we have I think the best squad in the league”

We caught up with goalkeeper Jamie Robba to get his reaction on St Joseph’s win over Lincoln Red Imps yesterday, the Gibraltar national team and more.

Second-half goals from Juanfri & Domingo Ferrer Lopez secured Saints a 2-1 win over Lincoln – we asked Robba how he felt the team played, “The team performed exceptionally well, every individual did his part and that gave us the win.”

We asked Robba how confident he feels heading into the league split after the result, “Well against Europa although we played well and dropped two points in the last 5 minutes, we were left with a bitter taste. We know that we have a very good squad but in football, it doesn’t count for anything if you don’t get results. The win against Lincoln confirmed our belief and showed everyone else, that this season, we are here to compete for the title.”

Jamie Robba hasn’t featured for the Gibraltar senior team since 2016 and despite holding the most clean-sheets for any Gibraltarian goalkeeper last season, he is yet to turn the head of head coach Julio Ribas, much to be bemusement of others.

With Matt Cafer & Chino not in the greatest of forms for their clubs, people are starting to wonder if this is Jamie’s time to get that deserved call-up which has eluded him for so long. We asked him if he would welcome a return to the squad, “What Llanito wouldn’t want to be in the national squad?”

St Joseph’s will now go into the league split in the top two – we asked Robba if he feels this current Saints squad is the best he has been involved in and has enough to win the league, “100%. We have, I think, the best squad in the league and by far the best team atmosphere that I’ve ever been around.”

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Juanfri and Afonso win FG monthly awards in October

As we get closer to the league split after the first round, St Joseph’s Juanfri and Lincoln manager Victor Afonso pick up Player of the Month and Manager of the Month for October.

Photo © C Correa Photography

FG Player of the Month – Juan Francisco ‘Juanfri’ Garcia Pena (St Joseph’s)

With most of the top 3 only in action once or twice this month, October was never likely to have too much of a say in the title race, but St Joseph’s, who did play twice, made sure they kept up their unbeaten start to the season. With 7 goals in 2 games, as well as consecutive TOTW appearances, Juanfri edges his team-mate Boro, who got 5 in 2, to the top spot this month. Like last season, the vast majority of Saints goals come from this pair, and if they stay fit, they could be key for the title race in 2020.

  1. Juan Francisco ‘Juanfri’ Garcia Pena (St Joseph’s)
  2. Salvador Manuel ‘Boro’ Alegre Delgado (St Joseph’s)
  3. German Cortes Narvaes (FC Boca Gibraltar)

FG Manager of the Month – Victor Afonso (Lincoln Red Imps)

With seemingly so few games in October, this was actually a hard decision to make with regards manager of the month. The only two coaches to win two games were Raul Procopio and Lincoln’s Victor Afonso, but on paper Lincoln’s two games were the harder matches so we’ve chosen to give the Lincoln manager the award for a second consecutive month. A special mention should go to now-former Boca manager Juan Maria Sanchez, who led Boca to a draw and win in October but stepped down from the club this morning.

  1. Victor Afonso (Lincoln Red Imps)
  2. Raul Procopio (St Joseph’s)
  3. Juan Maria Sanchez (FC Boca Gibraltar)
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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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Could this be St Joseph’s season?

After opening up their season with a 7-0 win over College 1975, we take a look at St Joseph’s, and why we think this could finally be their time to break into the top two of the Gibraltar National League.

We know it’s still early days, and anything can happen in football, but there’s something different going on at St Joseph’s which we feel can see them go one step further this season.

For the last two or three seasons now, St Joseph’s have always been needing “two to three top players” to be able to compete with Europa & Lincoln. Thanks to the extra UEL spot which St Joseph’s have achieved twice now, Saints have finally managed to gain the financial resources needed to catapult themselves into fighting for the league title.

Losses in April to both Lincoln & Europa last season would have given head coach Raul Procopio an idea of where to improve and they have done just that. Juanjo Bezares is no stranger to football in Spain, and has put his expertise to good use over the years. John Paul Hendrick has also worked hard to find the right HGP’s needed that would benefit the team.

Francisco Javier Mateo’s excellent display during Saints’ UEL campaign will Jamie Robba on his toes, while the acquistion of the reliable Aymen Mouelhi, partnered up with Fede Villar in the centre with Mauri on the left and Ivan Lobato on the right – you’re looking at a very solid backline, one which Saints have lacked in recent seasons.

Cristian Pecci is someone who doesn’t get as many plaudits as he should, a hard-working, defensively minded, player who can fill in at CDM or CB – a partnership with Ezequiel Rojas could be what Procopio needs. Creativity shouldn’t be an issue with Sykes Garro, Juanma Perez & Ernesto Cornejo at his proposal.

Boro & Juanfri have picked up from where they left off, grabbing five goals between them on the opening day. Summer signing Kyle Casciaro, when fully fit, will be fighting with Pedrito for a place on the wing.

The only headache we expect Raul Procopio to have is how does he implement the 4 HGP’s into his side without breaking their style of play and their momentum after the recent UEL campaign – it will be an interesting season for Saints and we’ll learn more about this side when it’s time to face the “big boys” of Gib football.

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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