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Belarus beat valiant Gibraltar

Goals in either half secured Belarus a 2-0 win over a Gibraltar side which put in a positive display.

David Ochello brought Ethan Santos, Andrew Hernandez & Jayce Olivero straight into the squad, replacing Stefan Ramirez, James Parkinson & Evan De Haro while Leon Clinton led the line and Ayoub El Hmidi dropped to the bench.

Belarus nearly opened the scoring in the opening 50 seconds but Ilya Ahkurin shot just wide from inside the box. Jaylan Hankins would be called into action a few minutes later, making two great saves to keep the score at 0-0.

Belarus were awarded a penalty in the 24th minute for a handball which was scored by Pavel Sedko. Jaylan Hankins would make an excellent low save to deny the visitors a second goal then Jayce Olivero would see his shot blocked on the other end.

The Belgian referee blew for half-time with Belarus leading Gibraltar 1-0.

Shkurin squandered a great chance to make it 2-0 on the 53rd minute as the Belarus striker headed the ball wide from Shevchenko’s cross. Ochello would make his first substitution a few minutes later with Shaun De Los Santos replacing Leon Clinton.

After missing a number of chances, Shkurin would make no mistake in the 58th minute as he easily beat his marker in the air and headed the ball past Hankins to make it 2-0.

With about 20 minutes remaining, Ochello made his second substitution with Ayoub El Hmidi replacing Dylan Peacock. Bram Van Driessche did enjoy the sound of his whistle but the lenient eventually showed his first yellow card to Gibraltar defender Jamie Serra.

Ochello made his final two substitutions in the 89th minute with Michael Ruiz & Stefan Ramirez replacing Jack Breed & Jamie Serra.

There were no further goals in the three minutes added time and Belarus walked away with a 2-0 win.

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Gibraltar U19s concede 43 goals in 3 qualifying matches

Steve Cummings and his Gibraltar U19’s suffered badly in their U19 qualifying campaign this month, conceding 43 goals in three matches after today’s 16-1 defeat against Switzerland.

The team, which admittedly was not helped by having five of their eligible players called up to the U21 side for their international matches, suffered 14-0 and 13-0 defeats against Austria and Republic of Ireland in their first two games, and notably by the time the game vs Switzerland came about, Gib only had four substitutes available for the game, despite setting off for Austria with a 19-man squad. Craig Galliano’s penalty was the only positive note in the final match, although by then that was to make the score 5-1.

The results however will no doubt be of concern to GFA officials, especially considering the last U19 qualifying campaign saw 18 goals conceded in 3 matches, and 19 in the tournament before that – the total of 43 this time out is alarming, as are some of the other stats from the three games*:

130 – shots conceded (1 shot every 2 minutes, 4 seconds)

69 – shots on target conceded (1 shot every 3 minutes, 54 seconds)

6 minutes, 16 seconds – minutes and seconds per goal conceded

7 – shots taken (1 shot every 38 minutes, 34 seconds)

3 – shots on target (1 shot on target every 90 minutes)

Naturally, the general reaction within local footballing circles has not been positive, and the recent trip to Taiwan for the Development Tournament, where Gib beat Hong Kong and narrowly lost to Myanmar and the host nation Chinese Taipei, has not provided the momentum perhaps hoped for. For Cummings, his job may be under threat given there has been a sharp downturn in the performances of the team in such a short space of time. For the players, who in truth will have not been able to do much about these performances, this will be a very steep learning curve for them – the job for the clubs and families of these players now is to ensure the players aren’t too adversely affected by the results and that it doesn’t stunt their development too much.

The only respite going forward for Gib is that this is the last campaign at U19 level in this format, with the next qualifiers taking on a Nations League set-up. Gib will therefore play U19 teams more at their level in future campaigns which hopefully will lead to a more balanced playing field. Hopefully this month’s disastrous campaign can be used as a springboard to work on improving the U19 team (and other youth teams) going forward both on and off the pitch – from how they play when in a game to ensuring they are still developing while at university in UK by ensuring they get places at proper clubs, and not just uni teams, where the standard is basically Sunday League (the university issue is a major problem for Gib at this level, but is something to discuss in a different article) and much more – especially given in a few years a lot of these youngsters will be potentially making the senior side.

*All stats courtesy of UEFA.com.

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Switzerland qualify while Gibraltar finish bottom

Switzerland secured qualification to Euro 2020 with a comfortable 6-1 win over Gibraltar in what is probably their last game at the Victoria Stadium before it’s redevelopment.

Gibraltar’s promising start was undone in the 10th minute when Denmark made it 1-0 as a low cross found its way to Cedric Itten at the back post, and the striker tapped the ball into an empty net.

The Swiss continued to control the game but the odd Gibraltar attack had the crowd rallying – but it would be their final ball which would let them down.

Tjay De Barr did his utmost best to lead the Gibraltar line (as he has done throughout their campaign) and for the first 33 minutes proved too be a handful for Borussia Dortmund defender Manuel Akanji.

The French referee brought a halt to a positive first half display from Gibraltar with the visitors leading 1-0.

The vistors got off to a fast start and a Loris Bentio shot was excellently saved by Dayle Coleing. Switzerland eventually made it 2-0 in the 53rd minute as a deflected header from Ruben Vargas beat Coleing, sending him the wrong way.

Switzerland scored a third which mirrored the first, Gibraltar defence fail to clear a cross and Christian Fassnacht fires in the loose ball. Julio Ribas would later be forced into making a double substitution with Reece Styche & Jamie Coombes replacing Lee Casciaro & Tjay De Barr, both picking up injuries.

Coleing made a good save to prevent Ruben Vargas from getting his second of the night and minutes later, kept out a close range header from Itten. Gibraltar got a goal back in the 74th minute as Reece Styche picked up a loose ball in the box and fired it past Sommer.

Less than 60 seconds later and Swiss made it 4-1 thanks to Loris Benito. Goals number 5 & 6 were two minutes apart as Itten got his brace and captain Granit Xhaka with a nice finish from inside the box.

There were no further goals in the four minutes of added time shown and Switzerland ran out 6-1 winners.

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Gibraltar v Switzerland: Preview

Gibraltar will end their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign at the Victoria Stadium against Switzerland at 20:45.

Second placed-Switzerland are nearly exempt from the Group D drama as they head to Gibraltar with three points needed. The Swiss are a win away from securing their place at Euro 2020, while the other two sides in the running are set to fight it out in Dublin.

Julio Ribas may look into making a couple of changes for tonight’s game as the Gibraltar head coach spoke in his post-match press conference about four of the six goalss his side conceded in Denmark last week being individual errors.

One change in the starting eleven is definite, as Jayce Olivero is suspended after picking up three yellow cards, and Ribas may be looking at either Ethan Jolley or Alain Pons as his replacement.

Gibraltar XI – Coleing; Sergeant, R.Chipolina, J.Chipolina, Britto; L.Casciaro, Walker, Mouelhi, Badr, Pons; De Barr

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Denmark comfortably beat Gibraltar in Copenhagen

Denmark ran out comfortable winners at the Telia Parken Stadium this evening, as braces from Robert Skov and Christian Eriksen helped them on the way to a 6-0 victory against Gibraltar.

The brace from the Hoffenheim and Spurs playmakers, as well as goals from Lech Poznan’s Christian Gytkjaer and Leganes striker Martin Braithwaite ensured the Danes ran out comfortable winners, ahead of their must-win encounter in Dublin vs Ireland on Monday night.

The hosts looked to control the game from the off but a nervy backpass from Simon Kjaer to Kasper Schmeichel led to a Gibraltar corner which was wasted.

Denmark continued to keep hold of the ball and took the lead in the 12th minute through a scruffy shot from Robert Skov – the wet conditions benefiting the hosts in the build-up to the goal.

Two minutes later and Jayce Olivero picked up the first yellow card of the game – Robert Skov stepped up and blasted his free-kick over the crossbar. Another threatening attack from the hosts saw Mathias Jorgensen come in at the back post and direct his header onto the crossbar. Olivero’s booking means he misses Monday’s match vs Switzerland through suspension, after accumulating three cards in seven group games.

Goldwin prevented Denmark from doubling their lead in the 23rd minute, pulling off a fantastic low save from Christian Gytkjar’s shot. A few minutes later Joseph Chipolina was booked for what looked to be dissent seeing as the defender hadn’t fouled anyone beforehand.

Liam Walker delivered a free-kick into the box which was flicked on by one of the Gibraltar players and brought out a superb save from Kasper Schmeichel but the linesman had put up his flag for offside.

Denmark went into the break leading Gibraltar 1-0.

Two minutes into the second half and Denmark made it 2-0, Christian Gytkjaer capitalised on a misjudgement from Kyle Goldwin to tap the ball into an empty net.

51 minutes in and Denmark made it 3-0 thanks to Martin Braithwaite scoring from a loose ball in the box. Robert Skov got his second of the game and Denmark’s fourth on the 64th minute.

Julio Ribas used all his three substitutions in the space of six minutes with Erin Barnett, Andrew Hernandez & Reece Styche replacing Aymen Mouelhi, Mohamed Badr & Tjay De Barr.

Christian Eriksen got in on the act, scoring a fifth via a deflected effort with just over five minutes remaining in the game, before the classy Tottenham midfielder tapped in a sixth with literally the last kick of the game to repeat the scoreline from the two team’s match at Victoria Stadium in September.

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Denmark v Gibraltar: Preview

Gibraltar’s penultimate game of their UEFA Euro 2020 qualifiers sees them take on Denmark in the Telia Parken Stadium at 20:45.

Denmark will be looking to strengthen their hold on one of the automatic qualifying places by securing all three points at home tonight. A 4-0 friendly win over Luxembourg last month, just days after they beat Switzerland 1-0 at home in the Euro 2020 qualifiers to move into second place in Group D.

Julio Ribas will be hoping his players can build on their second half performance from the 3-2 defeat to Georgia and provide a tough test for Eriksen and co.

Kyle Goldwin will be expected to start in goal tonight with Dayle Coleing only returning to training last week while a late fitness check will be made on captain Roy Chipolina who sat out of yesterday’s training session.

Predicted Gibraltar XI – Goldwin; Sergeant, R.Chipolina, J.Chipolina, Olivero; Casciaro, Badr, Mouelhi, Walker, Britto; De Barr


Denmark are favourites at 1/200 to win while a draw is 40/1 and for Gibraltar to pull off an upset is 100/1.

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Big six days of action for Gibraltar’s national sides

The Gibraltar national team, U21 and U19 sides play a combined seven games across the next six days, starting this afternoon with both the U21 and U19 sides in action.

Photo (C) Naps

The matches start this afternoon at 13:00, when the Gibraltar U19s take on Austria in the first of their U19 qualifying triple-header. The game was originally meant to take place yesterday, but due to snow in Austria, where the mini-tournament is being held, both the Gib game, as well as the match between their other two Group 10 opponents Switzerland and Republic of Ireland were postponed, and rearranged for this afternoon instead.

Later in the evening, the first of three matches to be held at the Victoria Stadium will take place, as Gibraltar U21s host Netherlands U21 at 19:00. David Ochello’s side will want to build on what was a battling performance away at Portugal back in September, although it will undoubtedly be tough against a side that can call on players with experience in top leagues, such as Manchester United’s Tahith Chong, and Roma’s Justin Kluivert, who already has two caps for the full Netherlands national team. Entry to the U21 match is free, and you simply have to collect a ticket from the Ticket Office outside the Tercentenary Sports Hall from 5pm this evening.

Tomorrow, the national team takes centre-stage as Gibraltar take on Denmark in their penultimate Euro 2020 qualifier, at the Telia Parken Stadium in Copenhagen. The team trained this morning at the ground ahead of the game, which will be Gibraltar’s final away match of the campaign. Head Coach Julio Ribas made one change from October’s squad, with Bradley Banda coming in to replace Matt Cafer as one of the three keepers. Football Gibraltar are in Copenhagen for the match and we will be bringing you coverage live from the Telia Parken Stadium – make sure to follow us on Twitter (@FootballGib and @FGScoreCentre) for coverage of the press conferences and the match itself.

Steve Cumming’s U19 side have two further qualifiers after today, when they take on Republic of Ireland on Saturday, and then Switzerland on Tuesday – for live score updates of all three games, visit UEFA.com where their score centre will keep you updated.

Monday sees the senior side play their final match of 2019, as they face Switzerland at the Victoria Stadium. With the game expected to be a vital one for the Swiss in their aim to qualify automatically for Euro 2020, there will be a lot on the line for the visitors, who in the reverse fixture won 4-0, albeit largely thanks to a poor eight minute spell where Gib conceded three times just before the half time break. Tickets for that match are limited, and if any remain, you can buy them at tickets.gibraltarfa.com. If you can’t make the game, you can again follow Football Gibraltar’s coverage of the game on social media, including press conferences, open training sessions and the match itself.

Finally, the Victoria Stadium will also play host on Tuesday to Gibraltar U21 v Belarus U21. Ochello’s side will be looking to make up for a shocking reverse fixture, where Belarus put 10 past the Gib U21s in what was probably their worst performance to date. This will also be the U21s final fixture until March, and will present them a chance to try and end a tough 2019 on a more positive note. Like the Netherlands game, entry to this U21 match is free, and the same ticket collection procedure is expected to be in place.

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Gibraltar squad announced for November double-header

Julio Ribas has selected a 23-man squad for the upcoming double-header against Denmark and Switzerland.

Photo (C) Naps

The only change to the original squad from last month’s internationals is the introduction of Bradley Banda, who originally replaced the injured Dayle Coleing after the Kosovo friendly. This time though, he replaces Brunos Magpies keeper Matt Cafer, with Coleing a surprise inclusion given he has only trained once since the injury. Blackburn U23 defender Louie Annesley continues to miss out through injury, after having surgery before October’s internationals – he has yet to return for his club side either so he was never likely to be fit for these games.

The lack of changes again shows Ribas intention to keep a small, tight-nit team together and treat it almost as a club side. With this the last internationals of the year, and with no friendlies currently scheduled in March or June, this could be the last chance for a while Gib fans get to see their national team in action.

The double-header starts with a trip to Copenhagen, where the side face Denmark on Friday at Telia Parken, before facing Switzerland at home on Monday night. The games are both crucial for their respective opponent’s chances of qualifying for next summer’s final tournament.

Tickets for the home game against Switzerland start from £25, and can be purchased at tickets.gibraltarfa.com

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Hernandez: “I believe that the team has progressed”

We caught up with Lions & Gibraltar U19 international goalkeeper John Paul Hernandez to get his thoughts on his side’s defeat to St Joseph’s last weekend, the friendly tournament in China with the U19’s and more.

Hernandez reflected on his side’s 4-0 defeat to St Joseph’s last weekend “Although we might not have created as many opportunities as we would have wanted to, I believe that the team worked hard throughout the game and gave a good shift defensively. I believe that the team has progressed since the beginning of the season and is showing great potential for this coming season. Despite the result, it was a good game.”

We asked Hernandez to rate Albert Ferri who is into his second year as Lions head coach, “Our current head coach has always believed in us and supports us 100%. He is very passionate about his role and always acts in a professional manner. His belief in the youth and homegrown players has given us the confidence and trust needed to perform at this high level.”

Late in September, the Gibraltar U19’s travelled to Chinese Taipei for a friendly tournament – we asked him how he felt the tournament was, “The tournament in Taiwan was a great experience. We played 3 matches against tough opponents. We won the first game against Hong Kong and lost the other two by just one goal. I think the results were good considering the size of Gibraltar compared to the rest. The Gibraltar national team performed at a high standard whilst being very competitive in all games. It was a great learning curve for the squad and there was great team spirit throughout the tournament. This was a great opportunity for me to grow as a goalkeeper. I felt extremely proud of representing my country once again.”

After making his first start of the season last weekend – we asked John Paul about his goals for the season – “As always my goals this season are to improve my abilities and to perform at the highest standard possible. I look forward to continuing to form part of the National Team and hope to become a valuable asset to my club Lions Gibraltar FC.”

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Ribas facing goalkeeping headache ahead of Internationals

Julio Ribas looks set to have a goalkeeping headache as he prepares Gibraltar for their November internationals against Denmark and Switzerland.

Lincoln Red Imps goalkeeper Kyle Goldwin is favourite to keep the number one jersey for the November internationals with Dayle Coleing still injured and Matt Cafer out of form.

Coleing re-injured himself in the away defeat to Kosovo a few weeks back but even though scans came back positive, it still looks very unlikely that he will come back in time to reclaim his starting spot.

Gibraltar’s third-choice keeper Matt Cafer was dropped from National Team training today and with his off-field antics yet to be resolved, his days in the squad are seemingly numbered.

Jamie Robba must be wondering every week how he isn’t in the squad; arguably Gibraltar’s most inform keeper continues to miss out despite his team sitting top of the Gibraltar National League.

Lynx’s Bradley Banda was Cafer’s replacement in training today (and Coleing’s replacement for the Georgia game) and we wouldn’t bet against him taking his position in the 23-man squad in the near future.

With the U21’s having three international fixtures, around the same time as the Gibraltar senior team, Julio Ribas definitely has his work cut out for him ahead of the qualifiers.