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Lopes: “We worked extremely hard and got what we deserved”

FG caught up with Lincoln defender Bernardo Lopes to talk about his sides Rock Cup final victory over Glacis, completing the domestic double and more.

Lopes reflected on Lincoln’s 2-0 win in the final, “Firstly, I would like to congratulate Glacis on a great game. I think the team played well and wanted to win the final. We have fought until the last minute and after a very difficult end of the league, playing so many games and fighting for the league until the last game. We have tried to maintain professionalism and a great attitude to win the double after a “different” year.

We asked Bernardo how it felt to complete the domestic double in the space of four days, “I feel very happy, it was something that we had not achieved in recent years but this year we worked extremely hard and got what we deserved. It was an incredible feeling and a lot of happiness to bring the trophies “home” again.

Lincoln triumphant league campaign means they will be playing in the Champions League next season, we asked Bernardo how it feels to be playing in the UCL again, “It is incredible because it is the best club competition and something that all players want to play in. After a year of hard work and effort, having this opportunity is incredible and spectacular.

The 27-year completed his sixth league campaign with Lincoln and has been one of their most consistent performers over the years – Bernardo reflected on his time in Gibraltar, “It has been six years with many joys but also with less good moments. I think that has made me grow as a person and on the pitch. I have met spectacular people who have taught me a lot. To sum up how my six years has been – it has helped me and taught me a lot and where I have grown a lot.

Lastly, we asked Bernardo about Mick McElwee’s role in the team – “I think that his knowledge, experience and way of passing on his ideas to the players was super important this season. I have listened to him and done what he asked of me, we have talked a lot, and I think he and all of the coaching staff have been great. They have prepared us for what we were going to play and mainly for the team to be strong psychologically and physically to do what we have done this year. They have created a united and very very strong team.

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Lincoln to play Glacis in Rock Cup Final tonight

Lincoln Red Imps and Glacis United are set to contest the 2021 Rock Cup Final this evening at the Victoria Stadium.

Photo (C) William Gracia

The final, which wasn’t even certain to take place until earlier this morning sees Lincoln, who lost in the semi-final to Europa but were put into the final after the Gibraltar FA alleged Europa to have breached competition rules, face a Glacis team who have had to prepare to face one of Gibraltar’s top two since last month, despite not knowing until today exactly who their opposition was.

Europa had applied for an injunction against the GFA, but the Supreme Court chose to turn it down this morning due to the effect it would have had on Glacis, who through no fault of their own would not have been able to contest the final had it not taken place today. Europa have in recent minutes released a statement on today’s Supreme Court Judgement, which you can read here.

As for matters on the pitch, 17-time winners Lincoln will be facing 4-time champions Glacis United at 7pm in what is being billed as a ‘David v Goliath’ battle. Both teams took starkly different routes to the final – Lincoln had to face Championship Group sides Lions, Lynx and Europa to get to the final, while Glacis beat Hound Dogs, Mons Calpe and Manchester 62 on their path to the final. However, Glacis are just 90 minutes away from qualifying for Europe for the first time – should they win, they will enter the Europa Conference League in the summer. If Lincoln win, Mons Calpe in 4th look set to take the final European spot, providing they are granted a UEFA license.

After winning the league title on Sunday, Lincoln may make changes for Wednesday’s final, especially given a number of players will be looking for one final chance at minutes before June’s internationals. Meanwhile, Glacis have had nine days rest since their last league game, and will likely field as strong a team as possible as they bid to upset the sizeable odds put up against them.

The Rock Cup Final is free to enter, with no COVID-19 restrictions in place, and gates open from 6pm ahead of the 7pm kick-off. However, if you are not able to make it to the Victoria Stadium this evening, the game will be streamed for free on the Gibraltar FA’s Youtube channel.

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Europa release a statement after Supreme Court Judgement

After this morning’s Supreme Court Judgement, Europa FC have released a statement to the press this afternoon.

Photo (C) C Correa Photography

Europa had applied for an injunction against the GFA to stop the Rock Cup Final going ahead, after they were removed from the competition for being alleged to have breached competition rules in their semi-final penalty win against Lincoln (who are set to play Glacis in the final tonight). This morning though, the Supreme Court rejected Europa’s application for said injunction. As such, Europa have sent a press release this afternoon, which is as follows:

Today’s Supreme Court ruling points to the fact that Europa FC should be playing in today’s Rock Cup Final. It also vindicates the Club’s arguments that it did not breach competition rules and criticises the Gibraltar Football Association for its failings.

We had to apply for an injunction against the GFA because they had unjustly accused us of breaching Rules and Regulations when we beat Lincoln fairly and squarely on penalties in the semi-final of the Rock Cup and the GFA and its Appeals Committee subsequently awarded the match to Lincoln Red Imps FC so that they could play in today’s Rock Cup Final.

The GFA did not follow their own Rules and Regulations when we appealed against this terrible decision and Europa feels strongly that it did not get a fair hearing. That is why we wanted to go to an independent arbitration that we had a right to go to under the Disciplinary Regulations. The delay by GFA has not allowed us to go to arbitration in time before the match is played tonight. That would have allowed the rightful Club, Europa FC to play Glacis United FC in the final and not Lincoln Red Imps FC, who lost the semi-final.

In court today:

  1. The Judge decided not to grant an injunction only because of its effect on an innocent party – Glacis United FC who had told the Court they would lose key players and could not play after today. He made it clear that if it had not been for this issue, he would have granted the injunction.
     
  2. The Judge also expressed the view that if we went to arbitration, we would be right in our argument that we have not breached the rules.
     
  3. He has also said that the delay was the GFA’s fault and this has frustrated our attempt to be in the final as we have not been able to get to finish the arbitration hearing in time because of the GFA’s deficient processes.
     
  4. Because of this, he has ordered the GFA to pay Europa FC’s legal costs of the Injunction Application.

We now call upon the Gibraltar Football Association to do the right thing and accept their own GFA Appeals Committee got it wrong and allow us to play the Rock Cup Final tonight. The arguments on which the Chief Justice at the Supreme Court of Gibraltar recognised we are likely to succeed in an arbitration have been the Club’s position all along. That would only be fair and we have written to the GFA President to ask him to ensure this given the Court’s ruling.

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Marquez sends Glacis to Rock Cup Final

A first half goal from Lython Marquez was enough to send Glacis through to the Rock Cup Final, after they beat Manchester 62 1-0 last night.

Photo (C) Rough & Ready

Manchester 62 were missing the experience of veteran Robert Guiling, who limped off injured in their last league match, while Glacis welcomed back Job Derksen and Jamie Bosio from injury as both sides looked to make it to this years’ final.

Manchester started the brighter of the two sides, but in the opening half hour neither team properly tested either keeper, apart from some tame efforts which were comfortable for both Ayden Vinales and Marcos Zappacosta. This was, however, until Glacis took the lead. Darlington Nwosu’s long-range strike had to be tipped onto the bar by Vinales, and after the ball bounced on the line and back into play, Marquez was quickest to react, putting the ball into the empty net from mere centimetres out to give his side the lead – a timely moment for the 26-year-old to get his first for the club since joining.

The goal was all that would separate the sides at the break, and in the second half, Manchester came out strong, knowing they had 45 minutes to try and push for an equaliser and keep their cup dreams alive. Mariano Pereira saw an early effort blocked, after some good individual work to make the chance, while Kieron Garcia had a couple of long range efforts go wide for his side. Up the other end, Manchester’s defenders were having to keep alert to the danger of a Glacis counter, with Matt Clenahan doing well to head a dangerous cross away from his own goal.

Manchester had two big chances in the game that they were unfortunate not to make more of – after Zappacosta had initially saved from Tom Farmer, Theo Pizarro lobbed the ball towards goal over the helpless keeper, only to see Glacis defender Ethan Llambias scamper back and head the ball away from the goal. The second chance came minutes from time – a Manchester free kick was put into the box, and Clenahan struck it cleanly enough, but it was straight at Zappacosta in truth and he was able to save it, and secure his team a spot in this years’ final.

Lineups:

Manchester 62: Vinales; Pereira (Pizzaro, 64 – Thorne, 83), Montovio, Negrette (Sardena, 64), Ballantine, Sanchez, Thomas, Edzes, Farmer (Moir, 83), Clenahan, Garcia

Unused Subs: Borge, Mifsud, McCarthy

Glacis United: Zappacosta; Smith (Moreno, 65), Llambias, Derksen, Bosio, Ajayi, Marquez, Galliano (Serra, 79), Gallo (Borghi, 90), Nwosu, Londero

Unused Subs: Fluxa, Andrulli, Ramos, Kaleba

Yellow Cards: Thomas, Garcia; Serra

Red Cards: None

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Guiling: “We will give everything we have as a team”

FG caught up with Gibraltar veteran Robert Guiling to talk about his return to football after a serious knee injury, today’s Rock Cup semi-final against Glacis United and more.

Guiling suffered a knee injury while playing for Lynx back in 2015 and hasn’t been on the football field since. We asked him how it feels to be back playing, “It feels great honestly. I have been missing it since 2015 after my knee injury and didn’t know what to expect from myself. After my first training session, I really enjoyed it with the lads and technical staff which gave me the green light to start working hard and being competitive with these young players.

Robert was one of several signings Manchester 62 made in January and by far the biggest surprise return in years. We asked him what the reasons were behind his move, “50% on the reason to moving to Manchester was the whole pandemic situation. Football was the sport I thought would get going back on track before other ones, and I’d been training throughout Covid by myself but was missing group activity and having fun. The other 50% was that I knew Dave Wilson and knew the way he wants his sessions to work out, with top intensity always and good fun. it fitted perfectly knowing that at 40, I could still keep learning. This young team with so many homegrown players also made my decision so much easier for me.

Goalkeeping heroics by Ayden Vinales booked Manchester 62 a spot in the semi-final to face fellow Challenge Group side Glacis United. We asked Robert how the team feels going into today’s game, “The team is excited and really wants to do their best for the club and themselves. We try to do what the gaffa wants us to, at the best of our abilities and put it in motion as a group. This team is very young, humble. hungry and we feel no pressure at all coming into the match with having nothing to lose only experience to gain. We will give everything we have as a team and see what happens.

Lastly, we asked Robert about his goals for the season – “Progressing into the Rock Cup final would be incredible for me. I would like to finish the season on a positive like always, knowing you’ve given all you have and been committed to hard work leaving nothing on the pitch and staying injury-free.

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Europa advance to Rock Cup Final after penalty victory

After Christian Lopez had made a key penalty save, Ibrahim Ayew’s spot-kick saw Europa make it to the Rock Cup Final, beating Lincoln 4-2 on penalties after a 0-0 draw.

Photo (C) Rough & Ready

Lee Casciaro captained Lincoln on the night, with Roy Chipolina starting on the bench, while Lolo Soler was preferred over Chino in goal by Mick McElwee. For Europa, Liam Walker was again nowhere to be seen, with his future not looking likely to be at Europa – Blas Alvarez, Leon Clinton and Chico Diaz came in to replace Marco Rosa, Mikey Yome and Adrian Gallardo from the side which beat Lynx 3-0 last weekend.

The opening exchanges saw little in the way of clear-cut chances, with players from both sides picking up bookings – this would prove to be crucial near the end of the half. Juampe had a chance saved by Soler in the Lincoln goal, before Ethan Britto, one of the aforementioned players to earlier be booked, picked up a stupid second yellow card, obstructing Europa keeper Lopez as he was trying to kick the ball out of his hands, leaving the officials with no choice but to send Lincoln down to 10 men. Tjay De Barr replaced Fernando Carralero soon after to ensure Lincoln remained with at least 5 HGP’s on the pitch, and the score remained goalless going into the break.

With the importance of the match showing, the second half largely followed a similar pattern – more bookings were picked up, and chances were few and far between once again – Mustapha Yahaya shot wide from outside the box just after the hour mark. As we neared the end of the 90 minutes, Europa tried to make the extra man tell – Gallardo headed over from Ayew’s cross, while Juampe saw another effort saved by Soler, but nothing could separate the sides. Unlike earlier rounds, extra time was used instead of going straight to penalties.

Lincoln started the strong in the extra time, with Christian Lopez forced to make a superb double-save to keep the score 0-0. At the other end, Bernardo Lopes also had to excel, making a great tackle to stop Juampe advancing on goal. Lincoln, who had battled for so long with 10 men, were starting to show it, and substitute Dylan Borge could not take advantage of a great chance to make it 1-0 from Ayew’s cross. As it was, both keepers could not be beaten after 120 minutes, so into penalties we went.

Tjay De Barr stepped up first, but his panenka effort went over the bar to hand Europa a potential early advantage, which they took through Gallardo. Lopes in the Europa goal guessed the right way for Lincoln’s next two penalties, but was unable to deny Luke Wall and Scott Wiseman. Likewise, Lolo Soler could not save from Olmo and Juampe’s penalties, before the pivotal moment in the shootout. Now captain, Roy Chipolina stepped up but saw his spot-kick saved by the Europa keeper, meaning Ayew had the chance to win it – he did just that and sent his side to the Rock Cup final, where they face either Glacis or Manchester 62, who play tonight.

Lineups:

Lincoln: Soler; Ronan (Chipolina, 107), Wiseman, Lopes, Casciaro (Torrilla, 75), Toscano, Carralero (De Barr, 40), Sergeant, Yahaya, Kike (Wall, 84), Britto

Unused Subs: Goldwin, Omoregie, Moreno

Europa: Lopez; Jolley, Breed (Borge, 97), Olmo, Alvarez (Gallardo, 60), Juampe, Badr, Carrascal, Diaz (Polaco, 67), Juanlu (Ayew, 83), Clinton (Yome, 45)

Unused Subs: Romero, Rosa

Yellow Cards: Toscano, Sergeant, Britto, Wall; Alvarez, Badr, Carrascal, Clinton

Red Cards: Britto

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Spectators to return to all sporting venues from Friday

The Victoria Stadium, as well as all other sporting venues in Gibraltar, will be able to welcome back fans as of this coming Friday, it was confirmed this afternoon.

Photo (C) Rough & Ready

The GFA confirmed this afternoon that following confirmation from the GSLA, spectators can return as of Friday 16th April, with numbers set to be restricted to 50% of the total capacity at present. The statement is as follows:

“The Gibraltar FA is delighted to have received confirmation, from the Gibraltar Sports and Leisure Authority, that spectators will be allowed back into all sporting venues across Gibraltar as from Friday 16th April 2021.

At present, all facilities will be limited to a maximum of 50% capacity and we would like to urge all those attending any football fixtures to fully co-operate with any requirements or requests made by onsite GSLA staff or indeed Gibraltar FA Delegates.

We would like to thank the GSLA, Civil Contingencies, Public Health Gibraltar and HM Government of Gibraltar for all of their amazing efforts and their hard work to ensure that Gibraltar is in a position to allow spectators to return to all of its sporting venues.”

The first game which would be set to benefit from the return of spectators is Bruno’s Magpies vs Manchester 62 on Friday evening, which kicks off at 8:30pm. The full weekend schedule for the Gibraltar National League is as follows:

  • Bruno’s Magpies v Manchester 62 – Friday 8:30pm
  • Europa v Lynx – Saturday 4pm
  • St Joseph’s v Lions – Saturday 6:30pm
  • Lincoln v Mons Calpe – Sunday 4pm
  • Europa Point v College – Sunday 6:30pm

Visit the Gibraltar FA website to find out times for other competitions, such as Men’s and Women’s Futsal, the Intermediate League, and more.

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Saints and Europa to meet in Rock Cup quarter-finals

St Joseph’s and Europa will face off in the Rock Cup quarter-finals after securing wins against Bruno’s Magpies and Europa Point respectively yesterday.

Photo (C) Rough & Ready

Saints opened the cup this year with a tight 2-1 victory against Bruno’s Magpies in the early kick-off. Juanfri had put St Joseph’s 1-0 up just before half-time, before Javi Casares equalised for the Challenge Group leaders soon after half time. The tie looked like remaining at 1-1 until five minutes to go, when Andrew Hernandez pounced on a loose ball to grab the winner for Raul Procopio’s side.

Europa’s game was much more of a formality, as they comprehensively beat Europa Point 10-0 in the later kick-off. From the get go, the gulf in class between the two was clear to see, and fresh off making his international debut against Montenegro, Dylan Borge grabbed four of the 10 goals – Liam Walker and Adrian Gallardo scored two each, while Mikey Yome and Olmo scored the other goals as Rafael Escobar’s side comfortably set up the quarter final tie vs their title rivals.

Today’s fixtures see Glacis take on Intermediate League side Hound Dogs in the 6:30pm kick-off – the winner of that tie will face Mons Calpe, while in the later kick-off, Lincoln take on Lions, with the winner set to face Lynx in the last eight. The other quarter final, already set in stone, sees Manchester 62 take on College 1975 – all quarter-finals are scheduled for between the 13th – 14th April, with the semi-finals a week after, and the final on 21st May.

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Gibtelecom Rock Cup draw

The Gibtelecom Rock Cup makes its return after last season’s exclusion due to Covid and has seen Magpies being drawn against St Joseph’s the pick of the first round.

First Round (6-7th April)

  1. FCB Magpies vs St Joseph’s
  2. Europa FC vs Europa Point FC
  3. Glacis United vs FC Hound Dogs
  4. Lincoln Red Imps vs Lions Gibraltar

Quarter Finals (13-14th April)

  1. Europa or Europa Point vs FCB Magpies or St Joseph’s
  2. Glacis United or FC Hound Dogs vs Mons Calpe
  3. Lincoln Red Imps or Lions Gibraltar vs Lynx
  4. Manchester 62 vs College 1975

Semi Finals (20-21st April)

  1. Winner QF 3 vs Winner QF1
  2. Winner QF4 vs Winner QF2

Final (19th May)

  1. Winner SF2 v Winner SF1
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All football activity suspended until further notice

After the recent announcement that Gibraltar was to be placed in a National Lockdown, the Gibraltar FA confirmed today that all football activity is to be suspended until further notice.

Photo (C) William Gracia

The National League, Intermediate League, Women’s League and Futsal were meant to continue or commence in 2021, but after last weekend’s announcement of a National Lockdown being implemented in Gibraltar, local football has inevitably and understandably been halted.

In a statement, the Gibraltar FA say: “Following Public Health Health Guidelines and in line with the restrictions in place across Gibraltar as a result of the recently announced National Lockdown, the Gibraltar FA confirms that all football activity is currently suspended until further notice.

As such, the Gibraltar National League will not restart on the 12th January 2021 as originally scheduled, and unfortunately the Women’s League will also be unable to restart. 

The Gibraltar FA will continue working very closely with Public Heath Gibraltar, and the GSLA, to ensure that football can return as soon as it is safe to do so.

In the meantime, the Association echoes the message of the Chief Minister of Gibraltar and Public Health, to stay at home as much as possible, and adhere to all advice in order to help stop this wave of Coronavirus spreading throughout our community, and support all our authorities and front line workers working tirelessly day in day out to keep us safe.”