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Gibraltar to play away friendly double-header in June

The Gibraltar National Team will take on Slovenia and Andorra in away friendlies in June.

Photo (C) William Gracia

After the March international triple-header, Julio Ribas’ side don’t have any competitive internationals until September, but with a window for friendlies available in June just before the rescheduled Euro’s, the opportunity to get more matches under the national teams belt has come up, and Gib will be taking on teams ranked 63rd and 158th in the world respectively.

Slovenia, who were promoted from League C of the Nations League last time out, so won’t be a potential opponent when Gib are drawn into that league, impressively beat Croatia in the last international break before defeats away at Russia and Cyprus. In Atletico’s Jan Oblak, they have arguably the best goalkeeper in world football, while Josip Ilicic of Atalanta is a known talent who has been part of one of the most exciting attacking teams in Europe in the last couple of seasons.

As for Andorra, this will be the first meeting in football between two of UEFA’s smallest populated nations – they finished bottom of their Nations League D group last time out, which Faroe Islands qualified from, but are an improving nation nonetheless and will provide a good challenge for the national team. Like Gib, they have a number of older, experienced internationals, but the most recognisable of them all, Ildefons Lima, will not likely be involved in the national team after he was exiled from the national team when he questioned the return of football in the principality without any Covid-19 testing measures in place. His 128 caps and 11 goals from centre-back made him Andorra’s leading appearance maker and goalscorer, and fans of Lincoln will recognise him after he scored for Santa Coloma in Lincoln’s 2-1 victory in Andorra – the first time a Gibraltarian side won a Champions League qualifying tie.

The Andorra game will take place at the Estadi Nacional on 7th June, while the friendly vs Slovenia, on 4th June, has no confirmed venue as of yet – kick-off times for both matches will be announced in due course.

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Fans return in defeat to Netherlands

After more than a year of playing behind closed doors, fans were welcomed back into the Victoria Stadium as Netherlands ran out 7-0 winners against Gibraltar.

Julio Ribas made just one change from the side which lost to Norway with Ethan Jolley replacing Jayce Olivero while Frank De Boer named an unchanged side after their win over Latvia.

Dayle Coleing picked up from where he left off last Wednesday with a vital save to keep out a shot from Feyenoord attacker Steven Berghuis. Gibraltar captain Roy Chipolina would make two important blocks just shortly followed by another superb save by Dayle Coleing to keep out Georginio Wijnaldum’s effort from outside the box with 25 minutes played.

Gibraltar would make their first change in the 41st minute with Erin Barnett replacing Kian Ronan, who had picked up a yellow card earlier in the game. The Netherlands would finally find a way past Dayle Coleing when Steven Berghuis picked up a loose ball in the box and curl his shot into the top corner.

Netherlands were forced into a change in the 55th minute when Daley Blind made a challenge on Tjay De Barr which resulted in the Ajax defender being visibly upset after being stretched off. A few minutes later and the visitors made it 2-0 with Luuk De Jong scoring at the near post.

Memphis Depay’s deflected free-kick made it 3-0 on the hour mark which was 4-0 less than a minute later courtesy of Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum. The visitors quick passing and movement continued to create the Gibraltar defence problems when Donyell Malen made it 5-0 just two minutes later.

Another superb goalkeeping display by Dayle Coleing was brought to a cruel end in the 73rd minute with a suspected hamstring injury for Kyle Goldwin and Graeme Torrilla was also introduced at the same time. Not even a minute after coming on, Goldwin was called into action by making an excellent double save.

Julio would make his final two changes in the 81st minute with Julian Valarino and Antony Moulds replacing Lee Casciaro and Ethan Jolley. The visitors would add a sixth in the 85th minute through Manchester United midfielder Donny van de Beek.

Memphis Depay made it seven in the 89th minute and after seven minutes of added time, the Portuguese referee blew the final whistle with Netherlands running out comfortable 7-0 winners.

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Gibraltar welcome the Netherlands to Victoria Stadium

Gibraltar wrap up their current international break when they welcome the Netherlands to the Victoria Stadium tonight.

After Saturday’s 4-1 defeat to Montenegro, where Julio Ribas made 10 changes and utilised the strength in depth in the Gibraltar squad, the side is expected to return to closer to the eleven that started last week’s 3-0 defeat to Norway. One notable absentee appears to be Jayce Olivero, with the Europa left-back not in the official squad list supplied to the press by UEFA, but Graeme Torrilla does return to the squad after missing the first two games. Bruno’s Magpies striker Kelvin Morgan, who spoke to the press yesterday at the press conference, as well as Lions loanee Didi Peacock are both in the squad and may make their debut this evening.

Netherlands manager Frank de Boer was confident in the press conference, speaking about how his side had to score at least five at the Victoria Stadium tonight – off the back of a 4-2 defeat to Turkey, and a 2-0 victory over Latvia, the Dutch see their goal difference currently stand at 0, and with goal difference the first separator of teams on level points, they know they will need to score a few tonight to keep up with Turkey and Montenegro (+5 and +4 respectively). There are not many noticeable changes to their squad, with only one of the outfield players listed yet to feature in either game so far – and rumours are manager de Boer will name an unchanged eleven from the last match.

Speaking at the press conference yesterday, Ribas spoke about the importance of having fans back – tonight’s game is set to welcome a limited number of spectators, believed to be around 600, to the Victoria Stadium – the first time a senior international at the Victoria has had fans since November 2019. The Netherlands too welcomed fans against Latvia, with 5,000 fans at the 55,000 capacity Johan Cruyff Arena last weekend.

Betting:

The visitors go into this game as 1/100 favourites, while the draw is 94/1 and Gibraltar are as high as 259/1 for the victory. Both Teams To Score, which came in vs Montenegro and would have come in vs Norway had Roy Chipolina’s late goal not been disallowed, is currently 11/2 best price, while Reece Styche, who scored last weekend, is 17/1 to repeat the feat at the Victoria Stadium and add to his previous goals vs Montenegro and Switzerland.

FG’s Predicted Lineups:

Gibraltar: Coleing; Jolley, Wiseman, Chipolina, Mouelhi, Moulds; Walker, Ronan, Torrilla, Casciaro; De Barr

Netherlands: Krul; Dumfries, de Ligt, Blind, Wijndal; Klaassen, F. de Jong, Wijnaldum; Berghuis, L. de Jong, Depay

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Rotation is key in Podgorica

A heavily rotated Gibraltar side put in a respectable performance in Podgorica with the hosts Montenegro running out comfortable 4-1 winners.

Julio Ribas would make a massive ten changes to the Gibraltar side which lost to Norway on Wednesday with Jack Sergeant the only survivor and was appointed as captain. Chino, Valarino, Moulds, Jolley, Badr, Styche, Pons, Barnett, Santos and Bosio all started.

Goldwin was the busiest of the two keepers in the early stages with the Lincoln goalkeeper makings saves from Kucevic and Djurdjevic to keep the score at 0-0. Chino was eventually beaten in the 26th minute when a fortunate rebound fell to Montenegro captain Fatos Beciraj who tapped the ball in to make it 1-0.

Gibraltar was awarded a penalty just four minutes later despite Erin Barnett scoring from Alain Pons’ free-kick. Reece Styche stepped up and coolly slotted the ball into the bottom corner to make it 1-1. Chino would continue to make several important saves until Marko Simic found himself unmarked in the box to head the ball past the Gibraltar keeper to put the hosts back in front at half-time.

Both teams would make a change at half-time with the hosts bringing on former Man City and Inter Milan forward Stefan Jovetic while Julio brought on Lincoln winger Jamie Coombes for Mohamed Badr.

After putting his body on the line time after time, Jamie Bosio came off for Andrew Hernandez in the 51st minute. Less than a minute later and Montenegro made it 3-1 after Zarko Tomasevic rose above Antony Moulds to head the ball past Chino, who made a great save from Stefan Jovetic’s shot which led to the corner.

17-year old Dylan Borge would be handed his senior debut in the 65th minute coming on for Reece Styche and the experienced Liam Walker would be introduced as well. Stefan Jovetic got himself on the scoresheet in the 85th minute when he fired in a free-kick from a tight angle past Chino at his near post.

Montenegro saw out the rest and walked away with the three points.

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Gibraltar continue qualifying campaign with away match at Montenegro

After a spirited performance last time out vs Norway, Gibraltar continue their World Cup Qualifying campaign this afternoon when they face Montenegro in Podgorica.

Photo (C) William Gracia

After the match against Norway on Wednesday, Gibraltar travelled on Thursday morning to Montenegro, for the first meeting between the two sides in senior international football. Montenegro come into this game on the back of a 2-1 away victory at Latvia last time out, and the 63rd ranked nation in world football will be looking to make it back-to-back wins to start the group and keep pressure on the likes of Netherlands, Norway and Turkey.

For Gibraltar, many of whose players only got three games of football in since the end of December, before this international break, this game will be a test of their fitness and endurance, with the triple-header likely set to see some sort of changes needed in order to keep legs fresh for the game vs Netherlands on Tuesday. Veteran duo Roy Chipolina and Lee Casciaro may start on the bench, while the likes of Ethan Jolley and Andrew Hernandez are among those who have travelled for today’s game, after missing out vs Norway.

The hosts, managed by Miodrag Radulovic, will have to ponder changes as well, with a home match vs Norway to come on Tuesday, but with goal difference the first separator for teams on equal points, Monaco striker, and all-time Montenegrin top scorer Stevan Jovetic would be expected to get the nod up top. Levante midfielder Nikola Vukcevic was not involved in the win at Latvia and is a doubt to be involved today, while key defender Stefan Savic may be rested, with the Atletico defender preferred for the key match vs Norway in three days time.

Betting:

The hosts come into this game as big favourites to extend their four-game unbeaten streak in all competitions, at a best price of 1/11 to win. The draw can be taken at 13/1, with a Gibraltar win as high as 70/1. Jovetic is a talented striker with vast experience at the top level, and is 11/4 to score first, although after Erling Haaland was shut out by Gib last time out, perhaps it is wiser to look at alternative striking options such as Uros Durdevic (14/5) or Sead Haksabanovic (28/5). Both Teams To Score currently sits at best price of 16/5.

FG’s Predicted Lineups:

Montenegro: Mijatovic; Marusic, Simic, Vujacic, Radunovic; Scekic, Kosovic; Boljevic, Jovetic, Haksabanvoic; Beciraj

Gibraltar: Coleing; Jolley, Wiseman, Mouelhi, Barnett, Olivero; Walker, Ronan, Annesley, Pons; De Barr

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Coleing impresses despite Norway win

Dayle Coleing produced an impressive goalkeeping display as Norway ran out 3-0 winners against Gibraltar at the Victoria Stadium.

It took Erling Haaland eleven minutes to have his first sniff at goal. A deflected shot fell to the feet of the Dortmund striker whose shot brought out a fantastic reflex save from the Glentoran goalkeeper. The chances came flowing for Haaland shortly after but Dayle Coleing was on hand to keep them out.

Coleing continued to be kept on his toes, shots from Martin Odegaard and Alexander Sorloth saw the goalkeeper make six saves in the opening twenty-one minutes. Sorloth had another chance in the 27th minute but the Leipzig striker dragged his shot wide.

After making eight terrific saves, Norway eventually found their way past Dayle Coleing when Alexander Sorloth got on the end of Fredrik Midtsjo’s corner to nod the ball in. Just before added time, Norway doubled their lead when Kristian Thorstvedt pounched on a poor defensive clearance to drill the ball into the bottom corner.

Jonas Svensson made it 3-0 for Norway in the 57th minute with a strike from outside the box – the winger would also be the first player to be cautioned just four minutes later. Lions midfielder Jamie Bosio was handed his debut by Julio Ribas, replacing Kian Ronan.

Four minutes after picking up a booking, Louie Annesley would be Julio’s second change of the game as the Blackburn defender was replacing by Erin Barnett. 20-year old Julian Valarino came on for Lee Casciaro with Gibraltar trailing 3-0 with ten minutes of the second half remaining.

Gibraltar captain Roy Chipolina had the ball in Norway’s net but his header was chalked off for a foul in the box. The visitors saw out the remaining few minutes and walked away with a comfortable three points.

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Gibraltar begin qualifying campaign against Norway

Gibraltar get their World Cup Qualifying campaign underway when they host Norway at the Victoria Stadium tonight.

Photo (C) Black and Burst

The match, which is Gibraltar’s first ever World Cup Qualifier on home soil (the qualifiers for Russia 2018 saw Gibraltar play in Faro, Portugal), is also Julio Ribas’ sides first match since securing promotion from the Nations League back in November 2020. Norway will undoubtedly pose a different challenge to that of San Marino and Liechtenstein though, especially if Dortmund’s in-form striker Erling Haaland starts up front.

Speaking at the press conference yesterday, Ribas confirmed that he had picked a slightly bigger squad than normal, partly due to the fact Gibraltar have three matches in six days, but also due to the requirements to have players tested for Covid-19 in case of any late withdrawals from his 23-man squad on matchday.

There appeared, at least from the press conference, to be a clear emphasis on youth from the Uruguayan manager, with Europa’s 17-year-old striker Dylan Borge, as well as 20-year-old Julian Valarino, on loan at Lynx from Lincoln, both facing the press for the first time ahead of potential senior debuts at international level. Valarino spoke about the importance of having a manager who trusts young players, citing examples such as Tjay De Bar and Ethan Britto, while Borge, who has had a breakout season domestically scoring nine goals in 11 appearances, despite only playing the full 90 minutes once, credited both his club manager and Ribas for him being where he is now.

For the visitors, there could be an interesting moment either before or during the game, with manager Stale Solbakken confirming in his pre-match press conference, which was held in Marbella where his side are based, that they would protest the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, with Norway aiming to highlight the human rights situation in the Middle-Eastern country. The manager held his cards to his chest in terms of how the protest may take place, but confirmed it would be happening.

The Norwegian squad has a number of familiar names – while Haaland has established himself as one of the finest strikers in world football aged just 20, there will also be the likes of Arsenal’s Martin Odegaard, RB Leipzig striker Alexander Sorloth and Everton attacker Josh King who will potentially be starting to test the Gibraltar backline.

Betting:

Norway go into this game as big favourites at 1/33, while despite home advantage, Gibraltar can be found at between 40/1 to 80/1 depending on the bookmaker. Should Haaland start, he will be fancied to score and is 7/5 to open the scoring, while the odds on Both Teams To Score is currently 4/1 – a tempting price given Gibraltar have scored at least one goal in each of their last four internationals at the Victoria Stadium (against Georgia, Switzerland, San Marino & Liechtenstein respectively).

FG’s Predicted XI’s:

Gibraltar: Coleing; Sergeant, Wiseman, Chipolina, Mouelhi, Olivero; Walker, Annesley, Badr, De Barr; Styche

Norway: Jarstein; Ryerson, Ajer, Strandberg, Aleesami; Hauge, Fossum, Odegaard, Midtsjo; Haaland, Sorloth

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Hernandez: “I think the club is in the right direction to winning a trophy this season”

FG caught up with St Joseph’s and Gibraltar’s Andrew ‘Pishu’ Hernandez to talk about the recent win vs Mons Calpe, his sides chances at a trophy this season and more.

Photo (C) Black and Burst

Pishu played 45 minutes in St Joseph’s 4-0 win vs Mons Calpe and was a key part of the team in that match – how did he feel the game went: “I think it was a match which was very important for us to win. We had dropped 6 important points in the lead up to this game and therefore it was important for us to get back to winning ways and stay close to the top spot in the league. I think this win puts us in a good position to remain title contenders.”

The 22-year-old has proven himself to be very versatile, playing at full-back, in the centre of midfield, and against Mons Calpe on the right wing – how important does Pishu think being comfortable in multiple positions is? “That is true. I do feel comfortable in multiple positions and I am happy that managers are comfortable and confident on playing me in multiple different positions. This is something I try to work towards and keep an open mind.”

St Joseph’s sit third, three points off the top and face Bruno’s Magpies in the Rock Cup – so what chances does Hernandez give of his side lifting a trophy come the end of the season? “I think the club is in the right direction to winning a trophy this season and has been for a number of years now. The team is more ready than ever and if we can get momentum again I think there is no stopping us.”

Finally, the midfielder is in the preliminary squad for Gibraltar’s upcoming internationals – does he think he’s done enough to earn his space in the squad: “I have been training extremely hard to present myself as an option to Julio and the GFA. If he does select me for the final squad it is a privilege and I will make sure in contributing the most I can!”

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Gibraltar gear up for International triple-header

The Gibraltar squad returned to training, nearly four months after winning League D in the Nations League – we take a look at the possible squad Julio may select and their minutes played this season.

Goalkeepers

  1. Dayle Coleing (Glentoran) – 1,605
  2. Bradley Banda (Lynx) – 877
  3. Jamie Robba (St Joseph’s) – 810
  4. Christian Lopez (Europa) – 706
  5. Kyle ‘Chino’ Goldwin (Lincoln) – 630
  6. Jaylan Hankins (Extremadura UD) – n/a

Defenders

  1. Louie Annesley (Blackburn U23) – 1,162
  2. Jayce Olivero (Europa) – 1.105
  3. Ethan Jolley (Europa) – 1,080
  4. Jean Carlos Garcia (Magpies) – 940
  5. Jamie Bosio (Lions) – 923
  6. Thomas Hastings (Lions) – 919
  7. Scott Wiseman (Lincoln) – 911
  8. Erin Barnett (St Joseph’s) – 906
  9. Brad Power (Lynx) – 887
  10. Aymen Mouelhi (St Joseph’s) – 846
  11. Kevagn Ronco (Mons Calpe) – 784
  12. Antony Moulds (St Joseph’s) – 737
  13. Jared Buhagiar (Lions) – 716
  14. Ethan Santos (Mons Calpe) – 666
  15. Roy Chipolina (Lincoln) – 540
  16. James Parkinson (Lynx) – 395
  17. Julian Valarino (Lynx) – 386
  18. Jack Sergeant (Lincoln) – 374
  19. Ethan Britto (Lincoln) – 287
  20. Kenneth Chipolina (St Joseph’s) – 276

Midfielders

  1. Liam Walker (Europa) – 1,170
  2. Alain Pons (St Joseph’s) – 978
  3. Ayoub El Hmidi (Mons Calpe) – 930
  4. Jaron Vinet (Magpies) – 923
  5. Jesse Victory (Lynx) – 887
  6. Scott Ballantine (Man62) – 872
  7. Graeme Torrilla (Lincoln) – 745
  8. Kian Ronan (Lincoln) – 545
  9. Andrew ‘Pishu’ Hernandez (St Joseph’s) – 419
  10. Anthony Hernandez (Lincoln) – 204
  11. Mohamed Badr (Europa) – 192

Forwards

  1. Tjay De Barr (Lincoln) – 999
  2. Dylan Peacock (Lions) – 719
  3. Jamie Coombes (Lincoln) – 508
  4. Kyle Casciaro (Lincoln) – 481
  5. Dylan Borge (Europa) – 450
  6. Lee Casciaro (Lincoln) – 438
  7. Kelvin Morgan (Magpies) – 427

*minutes played against FC Boca Gibraltar have been counted

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Fans set to return for home match vs Netherlands

Gibraltar’s home qualifier vs the Netherlands on March 30th looks set to see the return of fans to the Victoria Stadium.

Photo (C) William Gracia

In a statement this afternoon, released by the Gibraltar FA, they state: “The Gibraltar FA is pleased to note that, subject to certain conditions, members of the general public may be able to attend Gibraltar’s FIFA World Cup Qualifier versus the Netherlands on 30th March.

The Gibraltar FA is conscious that we are slowly emerging from an extremely difficult period for our country, and that as a nation we must continue heeding the advice from Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar and our Public Health authorities.

As such, the Gibraltar FA will continue its discussions with HM Government of Gibraltar and all relevant local authorities, as well as with UEFA, to determine the best – and safest – way to deliver access to the national stadium for our people on the 30th March. We therefore ask the general public to remain patient, and to follow our social media outlets for further news on access and ticketing. As and when developments occur, the Gibraltar FA will ensure fans of the national team are kept informed every step of the way.

Thank you for your patience and understanding – let’s continue to keep Gibraltar safe.”

The news came after the Director of Public Health Gibraltar, Dr Sohail Bhatti, announced the news earlier today on social media.

Today’s story would suggest that the international vs Norway on March 24th will remain behind closed doors, however there is no confirmation either way on this as it stands.