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Santos: “The preparation at the club has been good for pre-season”

Ahead of Mons Calpe’s match with Glacis tonight, we caught up with defender Ethan Santos to talk about the match, his recent games with the Gibraltar U21s and more.

Photo (C) Black & Burst

Santos played in the game vs Portugal U21s earlier this week, so how did he feel the game went? “Overall I think I can say it’s been a good two weeks of international football from our U21 lads. Based on the game on Tuesday a 3-0 defeat was hard to take considering that we were at home, but as David Ochello says the result was never a matter for us.

Our game plan was for all the players to go into the game relaxed and confident to have time on the ball and to start plays, build up from the back work out ways out to enjoy the game more and it’s what we did we came out to the war, fighting with everything we had to give we left nothing behind on that pitch.”

Pre-season has been unique for all clubs – how has it gone for Mons? “The preparation at the club has been good for pre-season – we had a minor set back with our manager during the time of Covid, but that is not a problem anymore.

I think the team have worked hard and long enough during the period we have had and we are all hungry to get back out onto the pitch again and see what we’ve all been working hard together to achieve.”

Tonight Mons get the season underway against Glacis – how does the defender feel his team is going into the game? “First game of the season I would like to hope that all our team, if focused and concerned, that we stay positive on the match. The first 3 points we can pick up from a game which if controlled the way we want should be coming home with us.”

Finally, what does the 21-year-old hope to achieve this season? “My main achievement this season is to be in Julio’s starting eleven for the senior squad. There’s a lot of sacrifices I have to make as a team player and I know a lot of hard work and dedication is needed, but if the work is put in and shown I’m sure doors this season will eventually start to open for me.”

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Gibraltar go down fighting against Portugal

Portugal U21’s beat a resilient Gibraltar U21 side 3-0 at the Victoria Stadium with Bradley Banda making a whopping seventeen saves.

David Ochello returned to the side-lines after time away from football and made four changes to the side which lost to Netherlands last week. James Parkinson, Jayce Olivero, Kian Ronan and Tjay De Barr replaced Ethan Thorne-Llambias, Michael Negrette, Kieron Garcia and Evan De Haro.

Bradley Banda had his work cut out from the start, making four important saves in the opening fifteen minutes to keep the score at 0-0. Portugal finally got their goal in the 17th minute courtesy of Jota.

Gibraltar had a chance shortly after, Andrew Hernandez’s free-kick found the head of Jayce Olivero whose effort was saved by Luis Maximiano. Excellent defending from Gibraltar kept Portugal at bay and the score remained 1-0 to the visitors at half-time.

Six minutes into the second half and Portugal made it 2-0 through Pote, the Sporting Lisbon midfielder capitalised on a mistake and fired a shot into the top corner from outside the box.

Midway through the second half David Ochello would make three substitutions with Evan De Haro, Leon Clinton and Dylan Borge replacing Tjay De Barr, Jack Breed and Ayoub El Hmidi.

Pote got his brace and Portugal’s third on the 80th minute. Bradley Banda made a terrific double save a minute later to deny Portugal from scoring a fourth.

Ochello made two more substitutions on the 83rd minute with Kevagn Ronco and Cecil Prescott replacing Ethan Santos and Julian Valarino. Portugal saw out the final few minutes to secure a 3-0 win at the Victoria Stadium.

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Gibraltar U21 v Portugal U21: Match Preview

Gibraltar U21 continue their qualifying campaign this evening when they welcome Portugal U21 to the Victoria Stadium.

Photo (C) C Correa Photography

Fresh off a respectable 5-0 defeat away at a strong Netherlands U21 side, Gib welcome an equally strong Portugal U21 side to Gib this evening – the reverse fixture was back in September 2019 where Portugal won 4-0 in Alverca.

Gibraltar look set to be bolstered by the addition of a number of senior players from the national side who still qualify for the U21 side, including Tjay De Barr, who scored the winner vs Liechtenstein in the Nations League last weekend, as well as Jayce Olivero who captain the national side vs Malta, Kian Ronan and Bradley Banda.

As expected, the Portugal side is stacked with talent. While Joao Felix, the £113 million signing for Atletico is not in the team due to his progression with the senior side, Portugal U21 manager Rui Jorge still has a whole host of talent at his disposal, including Spurs loanee Gedson, Wolves striker Pedro Neto and Manchester United’s Diogo Dalot.

Betting:

Unsurprisingly, Portugal U21 come in as a best price 1/66 shot, while a draw is 25/1 and Gib are 33/1. While there are no player markets, if you do fancy Tjay De Barr to make it two goals in as many games, then Both Teams To Score may be a possibility at 11/5.

Elsewhere, a repeat 4-0 win for Portugal is 13/2, while a shock 1-0 win for Gibraltar is understandably a massive 150/1 shot.

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Liechtenstein 0-1 Gibraltar: What we learned

Tjay De Barr’s goal in the 10th minute secured Gibraltar a 1-0 win away to Liechtenstein yesterday – here’s what we learned from the result in the Nations League.


Tjay is something special

Considering this was his first start in any game since suffering a serious knee injury vs Switzerland back in November 2019, Tjay De Barr was still the star of the game for the 72 minutes he played.

Liechtenstein could not handle the striker (and he had a blatant penalty not given in his favour), and the strength he showed to turn his defender and score the winner showed the quality he has. The injury suffered last year appears to be a hurdle that De Barr is more than capable of getting over.


A major comeback indeed, Graeme Torrilla

“Big setback > Major comeback” tweeted Graeme on the 19/07/2019 after having ACL reconstruction and meniscus repair. Fast forward one year and three months, Graeme’s hit the ground running and played every game as if it was his last.

His defensive work rate yesterday was second to none and can hopefully continue on this path to help secure promotion for Gibraltar in the Nations League.


We have missed Scott Wiseman

Scott has been instrumental domestically and internationally. After a long absence from the international scene, Scott walked straight into the Gibraltar side which beat San Marino then changed position in their win yesterday.

His qualities which have helped him play professionally for so many years is clear to see on the pitch and it’s rubbing off on his team-mates.


The best 90 minutes I have seen from Gibraltar

It’s all in the title. The first half display was the best ever seen in a Gibraltar shirt, we think anyways. The defensive discipline shown in the second half while our back was against the wall shows how much we’ve grown over the years.

Onwards and upwards from here with an away trip to San Marino and a home tie with Liechtenstein to come.


Can we dream of promotion?

There are many critics of international football, but it is safe to say that Gibraltar will be big fans of it – especially the Nations League. This years edition changed the set-up of League D, and with two wins from two, promotion has to be a realistic possibility.

November is now looking like an absolutely massive month, and Gibraltar need to replicate the performances of their first two games – if they do then Gibraltar will get to celebrate an historic moment in football locally. A clear sign that big progress has been made in the last few years.

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Liechtenstein v Gibraltar: Match Preview

Gibraltar could make it two wins from two in the Nations League, when they take on Liechtenstein in Vaduz this evening.

Photo © William Gracia

Both teams are on three points, courtesy of wins against San Marino, but Liechtenstein’s 2-0 win means they currently are top on goal difference. With both teams gunning for promotion, they know that this match, and the subsequent meeting at Victoria Stadium next month, will be crucial.

The last time the two sides met was in 2018, when Gib won 2-1 courtesy of goals from Joseph Chipolina and George Cabrera. Neither player is in the squad today, but Gib will also be looking to improve on the last match in Liechtenstein, where they lost 2-0 in a decent performance.

Both teams prepared with friendlies earlier this week, but while an experimental Gib side lost 2-0 in Malta, Liechtenstein picked up an impressive 2-1 win away at Luxembourg. However, Gib showed improvement in the second half of their friendly on Wednesday, and will be looking to build upon that.

Team News:

Gibraltar are expected to again be without Dayle Coleing, and the fact that four U21 players, Bradley Banda, Ayoub El Hmidi, Dylan Peacock and Ethan Santos, travelled to join the senior team in Liechtenstein, suggests there may be other injury concerns ahead of the game.

Betting:

Liechtenstein go into this game as 3/5 favourites, with a draw, which Gib have never had under Julio Ribas, 13/5, and a Gib win currently 5/1. A repeat of Liechtenstein’s 2-0 win in Vaduz is 11/2, while Gib to repeat the 2-1 win of October 2018 is currently 20/1. Graeme Torrilla scored the winner vs San Marino, and is 10/1 to score again this evening.

FG’s Predicted XI’s:

Liechtenstein: Buchel; Wolfinger, Kaufmann, Malin, Goppel; Buchel, Sele; Hasler, Frick, Wolfinger; Salanovic

Gibraltar: Goldwin; Sergeant, Wiseman, Mouelhi, Olivero; Annesley; L. Casciaro, Walker, Torrilla, Coombes; De Barr

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Perez: “We have always had very good goalkeepers in Gibraltar”

FG caught up with Jordan Perez to talk about coaching, Gibraltar U21’s and more.

After playing football for so many years, we asked Jordan how he found the transition to coaching – “Well to be fair coaching is something I have always enjoyed, during my playing days (although I am still playing), I used to occasionally train young keepers within the club I was playing in. So I have adapted quite quickly.”

Jordan was brought into the coaching staff at the beginning of their current campaign – we asked how he has found it working with David Ochello and Michael Felice, “It is brilliant working along with David and Michael. I have known them both on and off the pitch as players and friends and they are now a pair of very emotional and hardworking coaches who only have the players best interest at heart. Malcolm Martin who has joined us for the past two games has also been a very positive addition to the technical team.”

With Dayle Coleing cementing his spot as Gibraltar’s number one goalkeeper at 23 years old and others coming up the ranks like Bradley Banda and Jaylan Hankins – Jordan gave us his views on the young keepers, “We have always had very good goalkeepers in Gibraltar. Now with goalkeeper coaching having the attention, it has dearly needed in the past, I believe we have a bright future under the sticks. We have already two of our national keepers playing abroad, my ambition and intentions are to have many more in the near future. I cannot go into details right now but we have something in the pipeline which will benefit all our local keepers for the foreseeable future.”

Gibraltar U21’s lost 5-0 away to the Netherlands yesterday, Jordan reflected on the result – “I believe our boys had a brilliant performance especially in our disciplined defensive shape. We need to put scores aside and analyze the performance in blocks of 15 minutes, this way we can develop and improve our game. Let’s not forget that Holland U21’s have players playing in teams such as Bayern, Ajax and Paris St. Germain to name a few, so, all in all, we are very proud of our boys.”

With the final three games of the U21 campaign all to be played at home against Portugal, Norway and Cyprus – Jordan reflected on the tournament so far, “As a feeder squad to the senior team, it is hard to reflect at the tournament as a whole as we do not have the same players for all of the games. Since I started last November I have seen a vast improvement both mentally and physically in every single player which for me is a sign that we are doing things correctly and they are absorbing as much as they can from us. The future definitely looks bright and we are heading in the right direction in my opinion”

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Gibraltar defeated in Malta

Poor defending cost Gibraltar as they lost 2-0 away to Malta courtesy of goals in either half from Kyrian Nwoko and Triston Caruana.

Julio Ribas made eight changes to the side which beat San Marino 1-0 last month with Scott Wiseman, Jayce Olivero and Aymen Mouelhi keeping their place – Jayce also captained the side for the first time.

Malta made it 1-0 in eight minutes, Aymen Mouelhi got on the wrong side of Kyrian Nwoko and the striker nodded the ball past Goldwin. Gibraltar had a chance to pull a goal back midway through the half but Jamie Coombes took too long on the ball and his cross was cleared.

Julio made three changes at half-time with Liam Walker, Louie Annesley and Graeme Torrilla replacing Kian Ronan, Erin Barnett and Jamie Coombes.

Liam made an instant impact after coming on and should have equalised but his right-footed shot was saved by the Maltese goalkeeper. The introduction of Tjay De Barr in the second half helped Gibraltar massively as they searched for an equaliser.

Malta wrapped up the game in injury time as Gibraltar failed to deal with a cross which Triston Caruana headed in under no real pressure from the defence.


Conclusion: A defeat in the friendly shouldn’t worry Julio too much as Gibraltar face Liechtenstein in the Nations League this Saturday. It was refreshing to see Julio make changes and give players a needed run-out and that first-half display made it difficult for any Gibraltar player to impress Julio. What will slightly worry Julio is the knocks picked up by Alain and Tjay with such a big game coming up in three days.

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Malta v Gibraltar: Match Preview

Gibraltar play the first of an away double-header of internationals this evening, as they take on Malta in a friendly.

Photo (C) Neil Wilson

The friendly could give Julio Ribas a chance to rotate some of his squad, keeping players fresh ahead of Saturday’s Nations League match at Liechtenstein, while also trying new ideas in a low-risk encounter.

The two teams have met once before – Kyle Casciaro scored the winner in Faro in that match and he is in the squad again for the game at the Ta’Qali National Stadium, which kicks off at 6pm.

Gib come into this match on the back of a 1-0 win vs San Marino, while Malta’s two matches in September were a 3-2 loss to Faroe Islands and a 1-1 draw with Latvia – this game is expected to be a tight encounter with Gib having the chance of recording another positive result under Ribas.

22 of the 23-man squad have travelled for the game – the only absentee is seemingly Dayle Coleing, with the keeper expected to travel to Vaduz for the match on Saturday instead – giving Kyle Goldwin and Jamie Robba a chance to stake their claim on the international stage and push for a start vs Liechtenstein.

Betting:

As the home side, Malta go into this game as favourites at 4/7, with the draw 13/5 and a Gib win as big as 5/1 in places. Low-profile friendlies don’t tend to offer player markets such as goalscorer or bookings, so another angle to look at is the Both Teams To Score, with 11/10 on offer for goals on both sides.

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Annesley: “It is very important to keep the momentum going”

FG caught up with Blackburn Rovers defender Louie Annesley ahead of Wednesday’s friendly away to Malta.

After suffering an injury which kept him out for over six months, Louie made his return to international football in Gibraltar’s 1-0 win over San Marino last month – we asked the Blackburn defender how it feels to be back playing football again, “It feels good to be back after over 6 months out I feel like now I’m getting back to what I was and looking towards what I can be and that’s positive.”

Gibraltar go into this week’s doubleheader off the back of a 1-0 win over San Marino in the Nations League – we asked Louie how important it would be to keep the momentum going, “It is very important to keep the momentum going as these 2 games are going to be tough and momentum is important in football, we are all working hard to make sure the momentum is going to be continued into these games.”

Gibraltar is away to Malta on Wednesday in a friendly match – we asked how preparation has gone for the game, “Preparation has been good for these games, we’ve had a good hard working week of training and everyone is very much up for the games and all pushing each other every day.”

After making a name for himself with the Gibraltar U16’s in 2015, Louie has worked his way up to the senior level and become a regular figure in Julio Ribas’ team – Louie reflected on his team under the Urugyuan so far, “Life under Julio is good, he is a top manager and gets the best out of his players including me. Playing a different position has been hard but he’s definitely helped me massively with that. As a team, he’s got us working harder and smarter as a team and we are definitely seeing the benefits of that.”

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Gibraltar squad confirmed for next week’s internationals

Gibraltar Head Coach Julio Ribas has this morning announced a 23-man squad for next week’s friendly at Malta, and Nations League encounter away to Liechtenstein.

Photo (C) C Correa Photography

The main omission from the squad is national captain Roy Chipolina, with the Chronicle reporting that the defender misses out due to injury. From the last squad, Bradley Banda, Ethan Britto, Jean-Carlos Garcia and Anthony Hernandez also miss out.

Banda’s omission, which FG reported yesterday being due to his need to play for the U21s in their internationals, sees a long-awaited return to the national set-up for Jamie Robba – the St Joseph’s stopper has been one of the most in-form keepers in the league in the last couple of seasons.

There are also returns to the national team for the likes of Robba’s Saints teammates, Erin Barnett and Alain Pons, as well as Europa’s Ethan Jolley and Lynx vice-captain Brad Power.

The squad travel to Ta’Qali to take on Malta on Wednesday, in a friendly originally due to happen back in March, before then making the trip to Vaduz for a crunch Nations League tie vs Liechtenstein – both sides won against San Marino in the September Nations League matches, and this will be a key match in the battle for promotion.

The squad is as follows (Photo (C) Gibraltar FA)