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Pons: “We will continue to improve as we get more experience”

FG caught up with Alain Pons to talk about Gibraltar’s historic promotion to League C in the Nations League, St Joseph’s game against Manchester 62 this weekend and more.

Pons reflected on Gibraltar’s draw with Liechtenstein on Tuesday, “I feel that the team went out and executed the managers game plan well. We were solid at the back, caused problems going forward and every player on the pitch gave their all.

The draw against Liechtenstein gave Gibraltar the point they needed to secure promotion to League C in the Nations League – we asked Pons how it felt, “I am extremely proud and honoured to be part of the squad that continues to make history. An incredible achievement after just a few years in UEFA. I am sure that we will continue to improve as we get more experience and more games under our belt.

We asked Pons how preparation has gone for St Joseph’s game with Manchester 62 this weekend, “The team is looking good and everyone seems to be motivated. Due to the international break, we haven’t been all together in a couple of weeks but now the ball is rolling again and all the team is raring to go against Manchester 62 this weekend.

Lastly, Pons gave us an insight into what he hopes to achieve this season – “This season we are hoping to strive to be in contention for the league. I think we demonstrated last year that we can compete with the likes of Europa and Lincoln and this is what we are planning on doing this year. We all have a sense of belief and we are aiming to win the league. One game at the time.

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Gibraltar secure historic promotion to League C of Nations League

A 1-1 draw vs Liechtenstein was good enough for Gibraltar to secure an historic promotion to League C of the Nations League this evening.

Photo (C) David Roberts

Gib got off to a great start, as Liam Walker’s corner was turned into the Liechtenstein net by their own player Frommelt. From there, Gibraltar battled to ensure their goal lead stood, and were very unlucky to go in at 1-1.

Despite some great saves from Dayle Coleing, and a potential offside not called, Noah Frick equalised for the visitors just before the break, setting up a big 45 minutes for both nations.

In the second half, Gib almost went back ahead on two separate occasions – Liam Walker, on his 50th cap, hit the crossbar, while Kian Ronan did put the ball in the visitor’s goal, only for an offside to be flagged in the buildup.

Nevertheless, Gib held on strong and ensured they got the final result and the moment they had worked for all year – Julio Ribas was lifted in the air to the tune of AC/DC’s Thunderstruck – and it is safe to say Gib’s players have shocked Europe with their historic promotion.

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Gibraltar v Liechtenstein: Match Preview

Gibraltar will have a second chance at securing an historic promotion in the Nations League tonight when they take on Liechtenstein at the Victoria Stadium.

Photo (C) Naps

Gibraltar go into the game three points clear at the top, courtesy mainly of an excellent away win in Vaduz last month, and know a repeat of that victory would see them top League D Group 2 by a whopping six points. Even a draw would comfortably see them promoted by three points, while defeat would see Liechtenstein snatch the group on either head-to-head, or goal difference if they were to win 1-0.

After Saturday’s goalless draw with San Marino, Julio Ribas has one confirmed and one expected change to be enforced on him – Graeme Torrilla picked up a one-game ban due to yellow cards, while Lee Casciaro had to come off injured and is a major doubt for tonight – Kyle Casciaro and Mohamed Badr are two potential replacements for the pair, while Reece Styche and Adam Priestley will also be hoping for a start after impressing in Serravalle last weekend.

For Liechtenstein, their squad has been hit with covid-related issues in recent weeks, but they had the benefit of a rest this past weekend in the three team group, and will no doubt want to avenge both the 1-0 loss last month, and Gib’s historic 2-1 win vs them in 2018 when George Cabrera and Joseph Chipolina led Ribas side to victory from behind.

One more historic moment could be accomplished tonight – should he play, Liam Walker will become the first Gibraltar player to reach 50 caps in the UEFA era – having impressive only missed two of Gib’s first 51 matches since the 0-0 draw with Slovakia in 2013.

Betting:

The betting could hardly be any tighter, with the bookies finding it hard to call a clear favourite – Gib are 19/10 for victory, while the draw is an identical price, and a Liechtenstein win is currently 17/10.

If you fancy Gib to repeat their 2018 2-1 success, then it is 11/1, and with Julio Ribas side, along with Wales, the only teams yet to concede in this year’s Nations League, you can back Liechtenstein not to score at 13/8.

FG’s Predicted XI:

Gibraltar – Coleing; Sergeant, Chipolina, Mouelhi, Wiseman, Olivero; K. Casciaro, Badr, Annesley, Walker; De Barr

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Gib put on dull performance in San Marino draw

Zero shots on target was the notable stat as Gibraltar bottled their chance at promotion in a 0-0 draw with San Marino.

Photo (C) Gibraltar FA

Gib knew they only had to win to secure promotion, but set five at the back and showed too much defence to a poor San Marino side, who should have scored in the first half – thankfully Dayle Coleing made a very good save to keep it goalless.

In the second half, Davide Simoncini was sent off for a high foul on Graeme Torrilla, which should have encouraged Gib to go for the win. However, Tay De Barr missed the easiest chance of the game, putting a simple one-on-one wide, and in the end, Gib could not win.

Gib now need to avoid defeat vs Liechtenstein next week – if they lose, it will be a very painful week for Julio Ribas side who would have thrown away an easy chance at promotion.

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San Marino v Gibraltar: Match Preview

Gibraltar will secure an historic promotion in the Nations League today if they beat San Marino in today’s League D encounter in Serravalle.

Photo (C) Black and Burst

After two wins from two group games, and Liechtenstein’s draw with San Marino last time out, Gib know three points will give them an unassailable five point lead in the group – very impressive after three games in a three team group.

For San Marino, they will no doubt be buoyed by their draw in Vaduz, and for them this is their last chance to try and secure a result in the group – Gib will be fully aware of how hard they will have to work for their win after the reverse encounter at the Victoria Stadium back in September, but will fancy their chances of doing that.

The friendly defeat to Bulgaria at least saw no obvious injury concerns, meaning Julio Ribas should have as full a squad as possible to pick from – San Marino also rotated players in their 3-0 friendly loss against Latvia, but they are missing some experienced players from their last squad, including Danilo Rinaldi, Luca Tosi and Mirko Palazzi.

A note of caution for Gib though; eight players are one booking away from missing the game vs Liechtenstein – Liam Walker, Kyle Goldwin, Jack Sergeant, Louie Annesley, Aymen Mouelhi, Tjay De Barr, Graeme Torrilla and Ethan Jolley.

Betting:

After two wins from two competitively, Gib go into this game as odds on favourites, at a price of 5/6 – San Marino are 4/1 while the draw is 21/10. With the reverse fixture not seeing San Marino having a shot on target, and given the lack of goals in the group, it is little surprise Both Teams Not To Score is 4/9.

In the player betting, Tjay De Barr, who won Gib’s last game vs Liechtenstein with his goal, is 3/1 to score in 90 minutes today, while it would be fitting if one of Lee Casciaro (2/1) or Roy Chipolina (6/1), mainstays of the Gib team for this whole century, were to score the goal that secured the national team promotion.

FG’s Predicted XI’s:

San Marino – E. Benedettini; Battistini, Simoncini, Brolli, Rossi, D’Addario; E. Golinucci, Cervellini, Tomassini; Hirsch, Berardi

Gibraltar – Coleing; Sergeant, Wiseman, Chipolina, Olivero; Annesley; L. Casciaro, Badr, Torrilla, Walker; De Barr

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Gibraltar U21 double-header cancelled

Gibraltar’s U21 Euro qualifying campaign has come to an end after games against Norway U21 and Cyprus U21 have been cancelled due to COVID restrictions.

Gibraltar was scheduled to play Norway today at the Victoria Stadium but new restrictions in Norway have made the trip impossible. The Gibraltar FA said on their website “This measure falls in line with UEFA’s recent decision to allow the cancellation of Under 21 Qualification matches, should a fixture have no sporting impact nor influence on the first or last positions in the particular group.

One game which will be genuinely disappointing was next Wednesday’s encounter with Cyprus which was cancelled yesterday evening. Cyprus beat Gibraltar 1-0 in March 2019 and Gib were unfortunate not to get anything from that game.

Yet again, Covid restrictions have made it too difficult for Cyprus to travel next week. The Gibraltar FA said, “The Gibraltar FA is once again naturally disappointed at this our Under 21 Championship Qualifiers are crucial to the development of our international players of the future but understands fully the difficulties faced in these times we find ourselves in.

The next U21 qualifying cycle has yet to be confirmed due to the current global situation, so for some of Gib’s U21 players this may have been the last time they featured at that level.

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Gibraltar reach 50 in Bulgaria

Gibraltar hit a huge milestone yesterday with their away trip to Bulgaria reaching 50 matches since being accepted into UEFA in 2013.

We spoke to Allen Bula, Jordan Perez, Ryan Casciaro, Joseph Chipolina and Anthony Bardon to get their thoughts on being part of history; as well as review the last seven years.


After more than fourteen years of frustration, with political battles with Spain proving to be a constant thorn in Gibraltar’s numerous applications, in 2013, acceptance into UEFA would be given the green light and Gib became the 54th member.

Allen Bula began his reign as national team head coach back in 2009 and would lead Gibraltar into a new era as an official UEFA member. 19th of November 2013 would be Gibraltar’s debut match in UEFA with a 0-0 draw to Slovakia.

That was followed by a 1-1 draw against Estonia, Jake Gosling the scorer. Gibraltar secured their first-ever win as a UEFA member, Kyle Casciaro scored the winner in 1-0 victory over Malta in 2014.

Gibraltar’s first taste of an official international campaign would be UEFA Euro 2016 with Germany, Poland, Republic of Ireland, Scotland and Georgia making up Group D.

Allen Bula will famously be known for his approach to Gibraltar’s 4-0 defeat away to Germany, who were world champions at the time. We spoke to the former national team head coach to get his thoughts on being part of Gibraltar’s history in UEFA, Being a former Gibraltar National Team Manager has been one of the proudest moments in my life. From preparing the team for UEFA entry to helping GFA be accepted, to managing the 1st Match as UEFA member against Slovakia and the last match vs world champions Germany, will always be in my heart. Now the Gibraltar FA has reached a new milestone when they played against Bulgaria, their 50th match as UEFA member. Since the first ball was kicked in Gibraltar many years ago, the foundation was laid for where we are now. Too many people to mention have played their part to help Gibraltar in this very long road. I am extremely proud of all national players/managers/coaches/tech team, of all age groups that have and still give everything when representing Gibraltar, especially at the highest level.

Bula added, Always extremely proud of our 12th Player, our fans that have always given everything for the team. Gibraltar FA staff have and still work very hard, to give all the tools needed for the progression of all national teams. Not as easy a job as some might think. It is important that we all support both the association and the nationals teams Always, not just in the good moments, but most important in the bad moments. Congratulations to the Gibraltar Football Association and National team for achieving this milestone. Win or lose, I will always be very proud of my country.

David Wilson would take over from Allen Bula in March 2015 and be in charge for their defeat to Scotland. Jeff Wood would later be appointed as the National Team head coach in July 2015. Gibraltar’s maiden campaign would come to end, finishing bottom but plenty of experience gained – including Lee Casciaro and Jake Gosling scoring Gib’s first and second-ever competitive goals.

Another special moment which will go down in the Gibraltar history books is Jordan Perez saving Bastian Schweinsteiger’s penalty in June 2015. We got Perez’s thoughts on being part of it all, As always I feel privileged to have played my part in our footballing history. Ever since we first stepped onto the pitch as a UEFA nation on the 19th November 2013 at the Estadio Algarve against Slovakia where we managed 0-0 draw to our last game against Liechtenstein winning 1-0, it has been an unforgettable experience as a player, a fan and now a goalkeeper coach. I would not change a single thing about it from being substituted during a game in front of over 40,000 fans in the Aviva Stadium to performing the game of my life against world champions Germany, it has been an experience I would have never imagined having and will cherish it eternally. The future looks bright and my advice to our youth is that you have a unique opportunity to follow your dreams of becoming a professional football player as long as you consistently work hard.


Gibraltar became FIFA’s 211th member on the 2nd May 2016 after their application was made successful. Jeff Wood would be in charge of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign with Belgium, Greece, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Estonia and Cyprus completing Group H.

Liam Walker scored Gibraltar’s first goal in the group on their debut match against Greece. Two months later and Lee Casciaro would become Gibraltar’s top goalscorer with two goals after netting in their defeat away to Cyprus.

With the Victoria Stadium still not fit for UEFA’s requirements, Gibraltar welcomed Cyprus to the Estadio Algarve for their “home” tie. Anthony Hernandez equalised and while fate looked destined for a draw, Pieros Sotiriou crushed Gibraltarian hearts when he scored an 87th-minute winner to give Cyprus the 2-1 win.

Heavy defeats would later follow the Cyprus result and Gibraltar would, again, finish bottom. Casciaro brothers are normally linked when talking about Gibraltar football with Ryan, Lee and Kyle all playing for the senior national team over the years. We spoke to Ryan Casciaro to get his views on being part of history – “It has always been an honour playing for Gibraltar even before being in UEFA. Once we were accepted into UEFA and realised the meaning of it when we were drawn in the first Euros especially getting the then world champions Germany and some home nations. Although the matches are hard the experiences and the exposure you get are worthwhile.”


In February 2018, Jeff Wood would be relieved of his duties as Gibraltar head coach. The Gibraltar Technical Director, Desi Curry would step in on an interim basis and secured a 1-0 friendly win over Latvia at the Victoria Stadium in March.


Late June 2018, Julio Ribas would be appointed as Gibraltar head coach on a three-year deal after leaving Lincoln Red Imps just two months prior. The Uruygran’s reign would begin in the inaugural UEFA Nations League tournament with Gibraltar placed in League D with Macedonia, Armenia and Liechtenstein.

After losing their first two games of League D, an away trip to Yerevan would be the city that Gibraltar created history. A second-half penalty from Joseph Chipolina secured a 1-0 win over Armenia and clinch their first-ever competitive win.

With the excitement still around the squad, Gibraltar would welcome Liechtenstein to the Victoria Stadium. Goals from George Cabrera and Joseph Chipolina scored in the second half to complete a remarkable comeback to win 2-1 and record back-to-back wins for the first time.

Joseph reflected on being part of Gibraltar’s history, “It is always great to be called up for the National Squad. It is a great privilege and honour to play in every game with our National side. I have been lucky to witness both the before UEFA moments and also during the UEFA period. I have to say both have been great, managed to meet and play alongside many good Gibraltarian idols such as Colin Ramirez, Kevin De Lo Santos and many more. Not only this but also during the new campaign following 2013, I have had the privilege of facing top nations such as Germany, Portugal both just after winning the World Cup and EURO Cup and also play against the best players.”

he added, “As I said before taking part for our National Squad is the main and most important thing. Then making history and also writing chapters in Gibraltar’s Football is an added bonus.”

Defeats to Armenia and Macedonia would follow, leaving Gibraltar to finish in a respectable third place.

Gibraltar would be looking to push on from their Nations League success into the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying campaign. Switzerland, Denmark, Republic of Ireland and Georgia would join them in Group D.

After losing their opening two games, Gibraltar would travel to the Aviva Stadium to take on the Republic of Ireland. A 2-0 defeat to Ireland would spell the end of Anthony Bardon’s international career. Speaking to FG, Anthony said “Gibraltar has played a vital role in my life. Playing for the National Team was by far the greatest privilege and honour I ever had in my life. I watch every game with so much love for the players because I know where we started and to see them now brings me so much joy. My passion now is to build on my academy which brings families closer to Gibraltar and to expand just how special Gibraltar is.”

A late goal from Giorgi Kvilitaia secured Georgia a 3-2 win after goals from Lee Casciaro and Roy Chipolina brought the game back to 2-2. While Reece Styche would score his first goal for Gibraltar in a 6-1 defeat to Denmark on the final game of the group.

Julio Ribas’ men would finish bottom of the group with three goals scored and thirty-one conceded.

After North Macedonia and Armenia gained promotion to Group C, Gibraltar hopes of further success in the Nations League looked possible. League D Group 2 would be their destination with San Marino and Liechtenstein.

Two wins from two places Gibraltar in a comfortable position to keep creating history and clinch promotion with a win on Saturday against San Marino.

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Makeshift Gib side very poor in Bulgaria defeat

A makeshift Gibraltar side picked by Julio Ribas were very poor in their 3-0 defeat to Bulgaria in Sofia this evening.

Photo (C) Gibraltar FA

Bulgaria quickly picked Gib off in the first half, and after a supposed injury to Kyle Goldwin, Aleksandar Tsvetskov opened the scoring.

Gib did not massively improve, and Bulgaria got two more courtesy of Georgi Yomov and Dimitar Iliev.

Gib made 6 changes soon after the break, and Reece Styche especially looked to be a good addition as a real striker, which Gib lacked. In truth though, nothing really happened in the second half, as Bulgaria eased off before their vital Nations League matches, and both teams were very satisfied with the 3-0 result it seemed.

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Bulgaria v Gibraltar: Match Preview

Gibraltar kick off an international triple-header this evening with a friendly away at Bulgaria.

Photo (C) Black and Burst

The match, which was arranged as a replacement for a planned friendly away at Albania, is the first of three matches in a week, but being the only friendly, it gives Julio Ribas the chance to experiment, much like he did in Malta last month.

Gib have taken a 27-man squad out to Sofia, and there are five players who could make their international debuts; Lynx duo Bradley Banda and Brad Power, Lions defender Jamie Bosio, Magpies winger Jaron Vinet and Europa Point captain Antony Moulds – with key matches vs San Marino and Liechtenstein to come, it is likely at least one of them will make their international bow tonight. The only member of the squad believed to not be available tonight is Ethan Britto.

For the hosts, this match will serve as a tune-up for a crucial double-header of their own – playing against Finland and Republic of Ireland, Bulgaria need at least one result given they sit in the relegation spot of League B, Group 4 .

Given that Bulgaria have seen seven players withdraw from their initial squad for tonight, there are not too many household names in the Bulgarian side, with only four members of their squad having 20 or more caps to their name – Gib have eight players with that number of caps or more, and Liam Walker is expected to get one closer to reaching 50 caps for Gib, which he is on course to achieve against Liechtenstein.

Betting:

Bulgaria come into this game as 1/8 favourites, despite not winning a game since November 2019, while Gib are 33/1 and the draw is 8/1. With it being a friendly, there is not a full market of betting available, but Both Teams To Score is 13/8 if you fancy it.

FG’s Predicted Lineups:

Bulgaria: Lukov; Cicinho, Antov, Dimitrov, Vasilev; Malinov, Ivanov, Yankov; Iliev, Delev, Dimitrov

Gibraltar: Coleing; Sergeant, Barnett, Annesley, Olivero; Mouelhi; Pons, Badr, Ronan, Walker; Styche

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Borge: “I felt like it was the perfect move for me”

FG caught up with Dylan Borge to talk about life at his new club Europa, making his U21 debut against the Netherlands at just 16-years old and more.

Borge explained the decision which saw him leave Lincoln Red Imps for rivals Europa last summer, “Honestly, I was happy at Lincoln and the way they’ve treated me over the years but I was ready for a new challenge. I felt that Europa was a perfect move for me and the right club to sign for.”

We asked Borge how he’s found life at his new club, “I feel like I’ve settled in perfectly. I really can’t thank my teammates and the coaching staff enough for how they’ve welcomed me into the squad from day one. From the first training session, I felt like I was part of the team and it’s a great atmosphere around the club which I enjoy being a part of.”

At just 16-years old, Dylan Borge came off the bench to make his debut for Gibraltar U21’s against the Netherlands in November 2019 – we asked him how it felt, “At the time I had just turned 16 and had never been involved with the U21’s. When the manager called me up to the squad, I knew I had to be ready to prove to him that he was right to give me the chance to be in the squad. It felt great stepping out on to the pitch that day and it was an incredible moment, but it just feels amazing every time I get the chance to play for Gibraltar at any age group.”

Borge reflected on the Gibraltar U21’s campaign so far, “We have improved massively not just the results have been better but also the performances. It’s been a great experience and hopefully, we will keep on improving game by game until we get where we want to be. We’re looking forward to the next game against Cyprus at home.”

Lastly, we asked Dylan what he hopes to achieve this season – “This season I hope to win the league with Europa and play in the Champions League again. With the U21’s, I hope to take as much of the experience that I get every game with me as that will only improve me as a player and also hopefully try and win a game for our country which would be an incredible achievement. I’m also looking forward to hopefully scoring more goals and helping my team as much as possible to achieve our goals and give 110% in every game I play.”