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Chipolina: “Not the recovery we expected”

We spoke to Joseph Chipolina about his recovery from injury, a review of Lincoln’s season and more.

Just before the GNL took a break for Christmas, Joseph Chipolina suffered an injury in Lincoln’s 2-0 win over Manchester 62. We asked the 32-year old how his recovery has gone, “Not the recovery we expected as we have had a little setback. I will need some manipulation and little surgery clean up as my knee won’t bend as it should. But all in all still doing what I can and building the quads up.”

With Covid bringing a halt to football in Gibraltar, we asked Joseph what he is doing during these tough times – “I am training 2 times a day one at lunchtime and one just before dinner time roughly at 19:45. I can’t really do cardio so what I am doing are workouts which I can do with my knee as it is.”

Before Covid brought a halt to the GNL – Lincoln were third, five points behind St Joseph’s in second, ten points behind rivals Europa in first and in the Gibtelecom Cup semi-final. Joseph reviewed his side’s season, “It hasn’t been the best of seasons but these things happen in football. Too many changes within the club etc but always for the best of the club, but all in all it is what it is and another year where we learn as a club and move on for our next challenge together as one.”

Nearly six months on from Gibraltar’s Euro 2020 qualifying campaign, which ended in a defeat to Switzerland at the Victoria Stadium, Joseph reviewed Gibraltar’s campaign – “I think we did quite well on some games; maybe on others we could have done better but that all comes down to us players maintaining our A-game all throughout the games. Lack of concentration is what is letting us down but we have improved vastly since the arrival of Julio Ribas who is an amazing coach and person.”

Lastly, we asked Joseph about any goals he has set for himself – “At this moment in time my goals are to try and play football again. My injury was a very harsh one, I had my ACL torn into bits, had my ICL torn 60%, had Both Interior and Exterior Meniscus torn, and my patellar dislocated, aggravating the patellar tendon. So my goal is to get as fit as I can and try to make it back on the field and keep doing what I most enjoy and love.”

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Doody: “We will be back and we will be ready”

FG caught up with Lions Womens’ and Gibraltar’s Keshia Doody to talk about the season so far, the teams reaction to the postponement of the Womens Futsal Euro qualifiers, which were due to be held in Gib, and more.

Photo © Neil Wilson (Black & Burst Photography)

We firstly asked for her thoughts on how Lions Womens’ season had gone so far “Well before lockdown, our season had already ended with Lincoln being crowned champions. I personally don’t think we had a bad season overall but, it also wasn’t our best one. We’ve had a few changes to the squad bringing up younger players which I know they will be great assets to the team for the upcoming seasons. Us lionesses always give 100% in what we do, so I have faith we’ll be back stronger next season.

I would like to take the chance to congratulate Lincoln ladies for their title once again.”

Gibraltar were set to face Belgium and Kazakhstan in the Women’s Futsal Euro Qualifiers, in a week’s time, with Doody set to be part of that squad – were the team disappointed when the lockdown inevitably led to the qualifiers being postponed? “I think more than disappointed, we’re gutted about it. When we heard Gibraltar had been put down for the draw we were over the moon, at first it didn’t seem real as we had been waiting for this opportunity for years. The squad had already been training very hard for the past months due to having the friendly international matches over in Northern Ireland early in January which had been planned as a lead up to the upcoming Euros. So when the pandemic occurred, we couldn’t believe how close but far away our dream was.

Luckily we are all managing to stay positive about this and just waiting patiently for the time to come. Like I’ve already said to them before, we’ve waited countless of years for this opportunity, so I guess we can wait a further few months. Our health and the rest of the community’s health & safety comes first.”

With lockdown approaching two months now, we asked how the Lions Womens’ captain has approached keeping up fitness during this time: “Personally I have found it hard as I am very much a team player and don’t motivate myself to train alone. Luckily my partner is into cycling so I have been doing Gib rides as much as possible accompanied by him and motivated by him when I’ve not been at work. We have also been provided with a workout program by the GFA to do at home which I am also doing At least 3 times a week. That way I/we are as ready as possible for when we begin to get ready for the Euros once again.”

Finally, we asked Doody for her goals for the rest of 2020: “If football returns which I hope it does, my overall goal is to maintain my fitness, train hard with the girls/ squad & get back to routine with all of them. Locally my goal would have to be in winning the Rock Cup & Futsal league (*note – this interview took place before the announcement of the domestic season being terminated) and last but not least internationally my goal would be to make sure we are as ready as we can be to perform at our best at International Level when the opportunity arises again. Hopefully we will still be hosts in our homeland and make ourselves and Gibraltar proud. We will be back and we will be ready.”

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Gibraltar take on San Marino in Nations League opener

Gibraltar will open their upcoming UEFA Nations League campaign against San Marino on Saturday 5th September.

Photo © William Gracia

Yesterday’s draw in Amsterdam saw Gibraltar drawn in the group of three, with Liechtenstein completing Group 2. The group of three means that Gibraltar will have to fill up two empty fixture slots with friendly matches if they wish – although with all 54 other UEFA members having fixtures guaranteed in all six slots, should Gib play they would have to face a member from outside of Europe.

Gibraltar’s free spots are on Matchday 2 and Matchday 4, with a match away to Liechtenstein sandwiched in between on October 8th. November sees the conclusion of the group, where Gibraltar firstly play away at San Marino, before taking on Liechtenstein in the group finale on November 16th.

With Group 1 containing Faroe Islands, Latvia, Andorra & Malta, the general consensus is that in Group 2, Gibraltar have a genuine chance of promotion to League C – although only the top team are promoted from each group. At the very least, Gibraltar should be targeting to get results in their games, with especially the matches against San Marino, who have failed to win a fixture in 16 years, potential chances for taking three points.

Gibraltar’s Fixtures:

Saturday 5th September 2020: Gibraltar v San Marino – 15:00 CET

Thursday 8th October 2020: Liechtenstein v Gibraltar 20:45 – CET

Friday 13th November 2020: San Marino v Gibraltar 20:45 – CET

Monday 16th November 2020: Gibraltar v Liechtenstein 20:45 – CET

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Nations League: Gibraltar’s potential opponents profiled

Ahead of Tuesday’s UEFA Nations League draw, we look at the six teams who join Gibraltar in League D, and could potentially be Gib’s opponents this autumn.

Photo (C) William Gracia

With the change in structure of the Nations League, there are now only seven teams in League D, which will be split into a group of four teams and a group of three. Gibraltar are seeded in the first pot due to their Nations League performances in 2018, which means they can only draw one of the other first pot nations (Faroe Islands, Latvia & Liechtenstein), and either one or two of the second pot nations (Andorra, Malta & San Marino). So, how have Gibraltar’s potential opponents done in the past couple of years?

Faroe Islands:

World Ranking – 110th

2018/19 Nations League – The Faroe Islands, like Gib, finished third in their Nations League group, picking up five points from six games. Their sole win was a 3-1 home victory against Malta, while they also drew with the same opponents away, while picking up a point at home to Kosovo who won the group.

Euro 2020 Qualifying – The Faroe Islands finished fifth of six teams in the Euro Qualifiers, and once again their sole victory came against Malta – they lost their other nine qualifiers though including a 2-1 defeat away at Malta.

History vs Gibraltar – Gibraltar have played the Faroes twice before, once before joining UEFA, where Gib won 3-0, and once in their first game at the Victoria Stadium after joining UEFA, where the Faroes won 4-1. The two teams have yet to play each other since.

Latvia:

World Ranking – 137th

2018/19 Nations League – Latvia finished third in Group 1 of League D, but despite picking up four points, failed to actually win a game, drawing four and losing two of their six matches. Their two defeats came to Kazakhstan and Georgia, while they also drew twice with Andorra, potential opponents for Gib. Notably, Latvia only scored twice in their six games.

Euro 2020 Qualifying – Latvia finished bottom of Group G, picking up three points in a win against already-qualified Austria on the final matchday. Once again, goalscoring seemed to be an issue for Latvia, only notching three times in 10 matches.

History vs Gibraltar – Like the Faroes, Latvia have faced Gib twice in friendlies – a 5-0 victory in 2016 for Latvia, but a memorable 1-0 win for Gib under the interim management of Desi Curry, where Liam Walker’s late free kick saw Gib win their first game at the Victoria since becoming UEFA & FIFA members.

Liechtenstein:

World Ranking – 180th

2018/19 Nations League – We need no reminder that Liechtenstein were in the same Nations League group as Gibraltar. They finished bottom, two points below Gib, with their sole victory coming against Julio Ribas’ side in Vaduz, while they also drew 2-2 at home to Armenia on the final matchday, a result which secured Gibraltar’s third place spot.

Euro 2020 Qualifying – Liechtenstein finished bottom of Group J, picking up two points in draws away to Greece and again at home to Armenia. Results were understandably harder to come by in a tough group that consisted of Italy and Finland, who qualified for Euro 2020, and Greece and Bosnia and Herzegovina as well.

History vs Gibraltar – Liechtenstein have faced Gib three times. The only non-competitive fixture was a 0-0 friendly draw at the Victoria Stadium, while in the Nations League, after beating Gib in Vaduz, Julio Ribas’ side notched up a 2-1 victory in the reverse fixture thanks to goals from George Cabrera and Joseph Chipolina. The two sides also meet later this month in Malta for a friendly.

Andorra:

World Ranking – 135th

2018/19 Nations League – Andorra finished bottom of Group 1, after also drawing four and losing two games like Latvia had. The lack of goals may have concerned them (two in six games), but only conceding nine in those matches too will have given them more confidence in their defensive abilities this time out.

Euro 2020 Qualifying – Andorra had a decent qualifying campaign by their standard, finishing above Moldova in Group H, taking four points from their 10 games. A home win against Moldova, and an away draw against Albania ensured they finished the campaign not bottom of their group, which will have given them some confidence.

History vs Gibraltar – The two nations have never met at senior international level. At club level, both Lincoln and Europa have knocked Andorran sides out of European qualifiers though.

Malta:

World Ranking – 184th

2018/19 Nations League – Malta finished bottom of Group 3, drawing three and losing three of their six matches in their group. Two draws vs Azerbaijan and one at home to the Faroes on the final matchday was not enough for them to finish third, which in turn sees them in the bottom seeding this time out.

Euro 2020 Qualifying – Malta again joined the Faroe Islands in their qualifying group, and finished bottom again after picking up three points in a solitary victory vs the Faroes. Their only other goal in qualifying came in a loss to Norway, and the Maltese haven’t had the best of times recently.

History vs Gibraltar – The two nations have met once in Faro, and it was an historic one for Gib as Kyle Casciaro’s goal saw Gib win their first game since joining UEFA. The two sides will also meet this month in a friendly match.

San Marino:

World Ranking – 209th

2018/19 Nations League – San Marino had a torrid time of it in League D – they lost all six games and failed to score a single goal; no other team did that in League D. In a group that consisted of Belarus, Luxembourg and Moldova, San Marino were not able to take any scalps – they have failed to win a competitive international since 2004, or avoid defeat since 2014.

Euro 2020 Qualifying – Unsurprisingly, San Marino finished bottom of Group I, but a small upside for them was they at least managed to score once in a 3-1 home defeat to Kazakhstan. They did have a very tough group, containing three teams familiar to Gibraltar as opponents (Belgium, Scotland and Cyprus), as well as Russia.

History vs Gibraltar – The two sides have never met at senior international level. At club level, Lincoln beat La Fiorita 2-0 back in 2018.

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Gibraltar in March double-header in Malta

Gibraltar will face Malta and Liechtenstein in an international friendly tournament hosted by the Maltese FA in March.

Photo (C) William Gracia

The friendlies will serve as good practice for the upcoming Nations League later in the year – both of Gib’s friendly opponents may also be in Gib’s group when the draw is completed on March 3rd in Amsterdam.

Gibraltar have history against both teams in their nearly seven-year spell in UEFA; Kyle Casciaro’s goal in Faro saw Gib, then managed by Allen Bula, beat Malta 1-0 in 2014 in what was their first win since joining UEFA, while as well as a 0-0 friendly draw in 2016, Julio Ribas’ side memorably came from behind to beat Liechtenstein 2-1 in October 2018, thanks to goals from George Cabrera and Joseph Chipolina.

The GFA have also confirmed that Gibraltar will also play two further friendlies in late May/early June, with both opponents and venues to be confirmed.

Fixtures:

Malta v Gibraltar – 26th March 2020 – 4pm – Ta’Qali National Stadium

Gibraltar v Liechtenstein – 29th March 2020 – Kick Off TBC – Ta’Qali National Stadium

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New design for National Stadium to be re-submitted for Environmental Screening

The Gibraltar FA have confirmed this afternoon that plans for a 4,700 seater new National Stadium will be re-submitted for Environmental Screening this month.

Photo (C) William Gracia

The new capacity comes after UEFA made a change to its regulations governing stadia, allowing small countries like Gibraltar to be exempt from the ruling that stadia used for full internationals had to hold a minimum of 8,000 spectators. The GFA had, back in 2018, submitted to the Development and Planning Commission, for the purposes of public consultation, a project to construct a new 8,000 seater National Stadium for Gibraltar, in line with what was then UEFA’s minimum capacity requirement.

As such, the GFA have, in consultation with their project management team and UEFA, reviewed the existing design and chosen to reduce the capacity from 8,000 to 4,700 – a figure which still represents around a 113% increase in capacity from the current Victoria Stadium, which officially holds 2,200 spectators.

The GFA will be applying to the Development & Planning Commission (DPC), by no later than March 14th, for planning permission to construct the new stadium. Once the application has been submitted and validated, the public can inspect copies of the application, plans and other documents submitted either in person at the office of the Secretary of the DPC, or online at egov.gi

Notices were put up on the stadium on Friday 14th February ahead of the beginning of the weekend’s football, which served to initiate the process of notifying the public.

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Crisp joins Cottrell at Brymbo FC

Gibraltar U21 international Liam Crisp has followed his fellow compatriot Max Cottrell in joining Welsh side Brymbo Football Club while they continue with the university studies in the UK.

During the January transfer window, Crisp and Cottrell put pen to paper at Brymbo FC who currently ply their trade in the Welsh National League – they currently sit sixth in its Premier Division, which is the 3rd tier of Welsh football.

Cottrell, who started off the season at Mons Calpe, was unveiled by Brymbo at the end of January and started their recent defeat in the Cup to Pennydarren BGC.

Crisp was announced on Thursday 12th February from Manchester 62 and the Welsh club confirmed this morning that he is available for their league game this weekend.

Both players will be hoping to gain valuable minutes under their belts with international duty only one month away with the Gibraltar U21’s taking on Norway and Cyprus.

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De Barr: “The recovery is going well”

Football Gibraltar caught up with Gibraltar international, and Real Oviedo B striker Tjay De Barr, to catch up on his recovery from an injury sustained playing for Gib last year, life in Oviedo and more.

Photo © Real Oviedo

De Barr suffered a cruciate ligament injury playing for Gibraltar against Switzerland back in November, so we asked how his recovery was going: “The recovery is going well, with a few minor setbacks, however it’s normal. At first, when I thought it was only a meniscus tear it turned out to be a little bit more, involving the cruciate ligaments. That’s why the recovery has taken longer than I was expecting. I’ve basically been in the gym since the injury happened, just a few days ago I did my first ball work session and it felt really good to just put some boots on again, something I have missed a lot.”

For 99% of footballers, setbacks are part and parcel of the game, so has the 19-year-old attacker used any specific methods to deal with this injury setback? “Obviously like you say it’s part of the game, I’d say I’ve been quite unlucky with injuries. Back in Lincoln I had problems with my ankles, halfway through the season with Europa I had problems with my hamstring and now it’s my knee. Dealing with this setback isn’t any different to any other injury I’ve had, it’s making sure that you come back fully fit and ready to play, which is better than rushing to get back as early as possible and suffering from another injury.

When you’re injured and not playing, watching from aside you then notice how much football means and how much you miss it, I would say that’s what keeps me going.”

De Barr moved from Gibraltar to Oviedo, in the north of Spain, after completing his European commitments with Europa last summer – what is it like living in the city? “Living here away from home has been good for now, I do feel comfortable around the people I am so that’s good. I also do believe that it can just get better from here, I’ve managed to remain happy whilst I haven’t been playing so I can just imagine I’ll be much more happier whenever I get the chance to start playing again. I wouldn’t say there are any similarities, just the simple fact that I’m here to do one thing which is enjoy playing football like I did back home.”

The draw for the Nations League takes place on March 3rd, and Gibraltar are top seeds in League D. De Barr opened the scoring against Armenia in the same competition back in 2018, so how does he feel Gib can do, especially given Gibraltar will face a similar standard of opposition to themselves? “I’m sure that myself and my teammates in the national team are excited for the Nations league, it will be a very exciting campaign. As people from the outside see a great chance in achieving something this time round, I’m not too focused on that. Football is a very unpredictable sport, so you never know what to expect. The team will always try to achieve something great.

We’ve come up against some of these teams that we could possibly be facing and we’ve won and lost some so that’s what will make this campaign interesting and I’m just looking forward to it and making sure that if I have the chance to play I’ll be ready and fit.”

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Men’s Futsal team announced for upcoming qualifiers

Gibraltar’s National Futsal Head Coach, Jose Carlos Gil Prieto, has selected a 14-man squad for the upcoming UEFA EURO Futsal Qualifiers in Bosnia & Herzegovina

Photo © GFA

After the recent friendly double-header in Northern Ireland, which both teams shared a victory a-piece in, Gibraltar now turn their attentions to the qualifiers, where they face Switzerland, Cyprus and Bosnia & Herzegovina, who are hosting the mini tournament in Zenica.

They will be hoping to improve on recent qualifying performances, but face a tough group – the upside for them though is finishing third in their group could see them make the qualifying round playoffs, with 5 of the best 9 3rd-place teams entering the playoffs which will be held approximately in April as a two-legged home and away tie

Gibraltar Men’s Futsal Squad (image courtesy of GFA):

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Bosio: “The Gibraltar girls put on two gutsy performances”

FG caught up with Jamie Bosio on a number of topics, including the Gibraltar women’s futsal team’s recent trip to Northern Ireland, his futsal club side Bavaria and how it feels to also be back in 11-a-side action after over a year injured, for Lincoln’s Intermediate side.

Photo (C) Rough & Ready

Bosio spent more than a year out injured but made his return with Lincoln’s Intermediate side in the latter stages of 2019 – how does it feel to be playing again? “It feels good and it has been a long road with many physical and mental challenges but I feel much stronger as a result of it.”

The midfielder, who has been capped multiple times by the national team, would understandably be a player of interest for a number of sides in January, but for now he is happy where he is: “At the moment I have no immediate playing plans but to continue with this young and talented Lincoln U23 side. Also, I’d like to focus on my future in Futsal, not just coaching but also playing in the next few years.”

Bavaria, who Bosio is involved with at a domestic futsal level, sit 7th in the league at the moment, just outside the top six spots – how does the 28-year-old view his sides season thus far? “At the moment I feel that at Bavaria we’ve had a solid start to the league season. We have one game left in the first round and our objective this season was to try to finish in the Top 6 after the league split.

This is still achievable with one game left. We’ve had a tough run of games but the performances have shown us that there is a lot of potential in our all local squad.”

A recent career development for Bosio, who outside of sport is also a teacher, is to move into coaching – most recently the Women’s Futsal National Team who are currently coached by Gayle Langtry – how has the transition from playing to coaching gone? “Being a teacher, the transition to coaching has been relatively easy as many of the traits I also find in my work life. It’s just the additional pressure of developing your knowledge in the sport, which I have been doing for the last 4 and a half years.”

The Women’s Futsal National Team continued their development over the weekend when they traveled to Northern Ireland for a double-header against their hosts – how does Bosio feel the team did? “The Gibraltar girls put on two gutsy performances against a much older and experienced opponent. Our team is relatively new to the sport of Futsal so to play the way we did, particularly in the second game, shows a lot of promise for the future.

We have some young and exciting players like Shani Robba, Reighann Olivero and Tiffany Viagas who at such a young age will only benefit from these kinds of experiences. The future is bright in Futsal!”