Gibraltar 1-0 San Marino: What we learned

Graeme Torrilla scored on his senior debut in Gibraltar’s 1-0 win over San Marino this afternoon – here’s what we learned from the result in the Nations League.

Scott Wiseman is vital in this team

After more than four years since he last represented Gibraltar, Scott Wiseman walked straight into Julio’s team and was solid throughout. His runs, pitch awareness and experience played a big part in today’s win.

Julio’s biggest accomplishment after last year’s back-to-back wins against Armenia and Liechtenstein is being able to secure the services of Scott on a full-time basis. He will play a huge part in the progress of Gibraltar going forward.

Torrilla’s hard work pays dividends

Graeme Torrilla’s injury suffered in April 2019 could have been a career-ender, but the midfielder, who has now been a match-winner at U21 and senior level, showed how strong he is mentally to recover from such a serious setback.

In just his second match in 16 months, the 23-year-old, whose goal came as a late birthday present after his birthday on Thursday, bossed the midfield and added a dimension that Gibraltar has lacked in recent years. All going well, he should be a key part of the team for years to come.

Thankfully Berardi missed

Today’s formation did not have the kind of impact which maybe Julio believed it would go into the game. Playing with Anthony Hernandez in a false 9 role with our only striker Lee Casciaro on the wing, left Gibraltar with few attacking options for Liam Walker to pick out.

Roy Chipolina spoke about how Gibraltar lacked in the final third and fortunately, Berardi’s miss early in the second half went wide. Things will have to change ahead of Liechtenstein on the 10th of October.

Sometimes it matters more that you win, than how you win

Gibraltar dominated the stats today, but did lack a cutting edge and was clearly not used at this level to be the dominant side. However, the three points were the main objective today and they secured that.

At this level, you don’t always have to win pretty, but you need to ensure you take the points if you can – Ribas will no doubt have told his players that, even if they had to grind it out and be patient, the key part was getting the win at the final whistle.

Lack of fans in the ground is noticeable

Comparing today to the win vs Liechtenstein in 2018, the noticeable difference was how the crowd helped carry Gib at times in the second half. UEFA ruled that the games in September have to be behind closed doors, and that took the edge a bit off the game.

While from the stadium you could still hear fans from their homes, cars and nearby bars, nothing is more important than having a crowd in the ground. With no home game until November, fingers crossed that is the case vs Liechtenstein again.


Torrilla debut goal wins it for Gibraltar

Graeme Torrilla scored on his debut to secure Gibraltar a 1-0 win over San Marino in their UEFA Nations League opener.

Julio Ribas made five changes to the side which lost 6-1 to Switzerland last November with Jack Sergeant, Erin Barnett, Joseph Chipolina, Mohamed Badr and Tjay De Barr being replaced by Scott Wiseman, Louie Annesley, Anthony Hernandez, Jayce Olivero and Graeme Torrilla, who was handed his senior debut.

Gibraltar started the better side, the introduction of Scott Wiseman saw the Lincoln defender make a few good runs which caused the San Marino defence problems.

35 minutes in and Gibraltar created their first chance, a great passage of play saw Wiseman’s cross headed wide by Ethan Britto. Eight minutes later and Gibraltar found their breakthrough, Liam Walker’s free-kick found the head of Graeme Torrilla who guided the ball past Benedettini.

Gibraltar went into the break with a well deserved 1-0 lead.

San Marino nearly equalised seven minutes into the second half, Filippo Berardi found himself on goal and shot just wide of Coleing’s goal. Gibraltar woke up after that miss and regained control of the game.

Ethan Britto had a good chance to make it 2-0 on the 77th minute but his fiercely struck shot was well saved by Benedettini. Shortly after Gibraltar made all three of their changes with Mohamed Badr, Jack Sergeant and Kian Ronan replacing Lee Casciaro, Graeme Torrilla and Louie Annesley.

Gibraltar saw out the rest of the game with ease and walked away with a 1-0 win.


Gibraltar v San Marino: Preview

Gibraltar open their 2020 UEFA Nations League campaign with a home match against San Marino this afternoon at the Victoria Stadium.

Just under 10 months after both sides last played at international level, the pair get League D Group 2 underway at 3pm, in what undoubtedly is a big game for both nations.

Speaking ahead of the game yesterday, Gibraltar Head Coach Julio Ribas said that the game will be a “very tough encounter”, but one that he expects the team, as always, to encounter with “all of our hearts, always to win”.

Meanwhile, San Marino Head Coach Franco Varrella spoke very respectfully of Gibraltar, commenting that he felt that Gibraltar were still ahead of his team in terms of professionalism, and that there was a gap between the two. Whether that was mind games, or a genuine comment, remains to be seen, but the comments from both managers highlight the nature of today’s game.

Squad News:

Gibraltar confirmed their 23-man squad yesterday, with a notable omission as Europa’s Ethan Jolley was surprisingly dropped from Ribas final squad. Notably, 12 Lincoln players have made the team after their summer transfer exploits in signing a number of HGP’s, and there could be debuts for Red Imps duo Kian Ronan and Graeme Torrilla – alongside Lynx’s Bradley Banda and Bruno’s Magpies Jaron Vinet, they make up the four uncapped players in the team. There is also a returning face in Scott Wiseman, who last played for the national team back in 2016.

For the visitors, San Marino, their biggest attacking threat, now that former Sammarinese icon Andy Selva has retired, would likely be Filippo Berardi. The winger, who was on the book of Serie A side Torino for four years, scored their most recent goal in a 3-1 home defeat against Kazakhstan in Euro 2020 qualifying.


For the first time in a competitive international, Gibraltar go into this game as overwhelming favourites to pick up all 3 points – they are best price 1/2 to win, while the draw is 19/4 and a San Marino win is currently as high as 10/1 in places.

The bookies don’t appear to fancy goals flying in today, with Under 2.5 a short chance at 8/11, however, in the goalscoring stakes, you can get 9/5 on Lee Casciaro to score once again for Gibraltar, or 9/2 for Roy Chipolina to notch on the scoresheet – both scored in the 3-2 defeat to Georgia last year.

FG’s Predicted Lineups:

Gibraltar – Coleing; Sergeant, Wiseman, R. Chipolina, Olivero; Badr, Walker, Hernandez, L. Casciaro; De Barr, Styche

San Marino – E. Benedettini; Rossi, Simoncini, Battistini, Grandoni, Palazzi; E. Golinucci, Giardi, A. Golinucci, Berardi; Ceccaroli


Cottrell: “Confidence is key for these type of games”

FG caught up with Max Cottrell ahead of Gibraltar’s U21 qualifier away to Norway tomorrow.

Cottrell gave us an insight into how preparation has gone for tomorrow’s qualifier, “The preparation for the game has been the best it could have been, as due to the current COVID situation, everything has been based on a more day to day basis than anything else.”

We asked Max how the team feels going into tomorrow’s game, “As we all know, going into every international game at this level, we will always be the underdogs, therefore I think confidence is key for these type of games, as coming into such a big game against a team like Norway we will manage and approach it with the same mentality as we always have, a determined and motivated one.”

Lastly, Max reviewed Gibraltar’s Euro U21 campaign so far – “If you look at our group, we have been placed in a very strong one that contains some of the best upcoming youngsters, such as Francisco Trincão and Justin Kluivert. Therefore we all knew exactly what we were facing and hopefully, we can continue to give our best as we know how important it is to represent our country, Gibraltar.”


Coleing move to Glentoran set to be confirmed this week

Europa and Gibraltar keeper Dayle Coleing will this week be signing for Northern Irish side Glentoran, for a transfer fee believed to be £50,000.

Photo © Naps

The 23-year-old, who joined Europa in 2018, firmly established himself as his club’s number 1 last season, while also making his international debut last September against Denmark, and the keeper now makes the move to the Northern Irish Premier Division, to join Glentoran on what is believed to be a 3-year contract.

Coleing will be signing in time for Glentoran’s Europa League campaign, where they were drawn against Faroese side HB Torshavn – the then 17-year-old Coleing was on the bench for former team Lincoln for both legs against the same opposition back in 2014.

Europa are believed to have moved quickly and have already lined up a replacement for the goalkeeper, in time for their Champions League campaign where they face a tough away tie against former European Champions Red Star Belgrade next week.

Coleing joins Colin Ramirez in the list of Gibraltarians to have played for the Glens, as they are nicknamed, and also joins a growing list of young Gibraltarians now plying their trade outside of the Rock.


Part Three: Daniel Duarte

Part Three of our three-part series with ex-Lincoln Red Imps and Gibraltar national team captain Daniel Duarte sees us talk about how it felt representing his country, winning Gold in 2007, and more.

1) How did it feel representing your country for the first time?

I remember the first time I represented Gibraltar, we were playing away in Malaga and I came on as a sub for Colin Ramirez. Those few seconds before getting onto the pitch felt like an eternity; I was so anxious and just wanted to get on the pitch and play. But I don’t remember much else if I’m honest. I was very young at the time and was very excited and extremely happy to be playing for the national team.

Playing for the national side is every kid’s dream and growing up I’d heard stories of different players explaining how honoured and privileged they felt whilst playing for Gibraltar. As my career progressed and I played more games with the senior side, I started feeling something different: the more I played for the national side, the more special it became. Representing my country at different levels always felt special, no matter if it was a friendly or an official international game – wearing that shirt always brought up your emotion.

2) At what age did you make your senior national team debut and how did it feel?

At the time, a number of the U21 national team players played against the senior side every Thursday and three or four players from the U21s, including myself, were selected to travel with the senior team to Malaga.

I can still remember the moment when I told my mum and grandparents that I had been selected to play for Gibraltar, I was very excited and happy. But I was also very young – only 16 – and the match was in Malaga, so I had to check that I was allowed to travel and play away.

3) Coming up through the national team as a youngster, how beneficial was it for you to have been surrounded by those senior players at the time?

Prior to joining the national team, I was already playing for Lincoln’s senior team, which exposed me to other senior players. I believe that it is always beneficial to play with older and better players than yourself when you are young. Playing for the U21s and training with the senior side helped me tremendously: I was able to play with the best players in Gibraltar, players that had a lot of talent and experience, such as Colin Ramirez, Peter Moreno, Jerry Aguilera, Adrian Olivero and Ivan de Haro.

These guys were not only excellent footballers, but they also gave me a lot of advice and helped me to stay mentally focused on football and my career. Coming up through the national team, I was fortunate to have played for two of the best managers in Gibraltar at the time, Adolfo Ramirez and Charlie Cumbo.

4) You were part of that 2007 team which won Gold, how did it feel being part of that team?

It was very hard for Gibraltar losing the final back in 1995, but winning gold in 2007 was probably one of Gibraltar’s most outstanding performances.

The squad for 2007 final had played together in previous Island Games and I can honestly say that we were in the best shape of our lives: we were extremely fit and very well prepared for Rhodes. Albert Buhagiar (Bubi), who was the coach at the time, really improved the physical and mental strength of the team. We were a team on a mission; we wanted to bring home the gold medal, the gold medal that we gave away in Gibraltar in 1995. We wanted to win for Gibraltar, but also for the players that lost in 1995 and were playing in 2007 final, we couldn’t let them lose another gold medal.

The team was extremely close, we were good friends that worked hard and played for each other. We had a very well-balanced technical team and a very determined coach, Bubi. It was truly an honour to play for that squad and being the team captain – winning the gold medal was probably one of the proudest moment in my football career.

5) Who was the toughest opponent you came across at the international level?

UEFA membership came a little late for me; it was at the very end of my career when I had the opportunity of facing top nations for the European qualifiers. During the qualifying rounds, I had the privilege of playing against Scotland in Hampden Park and I would say that the entire team were outstanding and the best players that I had ever faced. The Scottish fans were also unbelievable: 50,000 people singing the Scottish national anthem was an incredible experience.

Despite Scotland being such a tough opponent, the Gibraltar team played very well – we all remember what happened after that excellent through-ball by Aaron Payas to Lee Casciaro. Football can’t get any better than that, the first goal for Gibraltar at the European qualifiers was very emotional.

6) Pre-UEFA, what was the toughest team you came across at the international level?

Pre-UEFA, I played against top sides like Charlton, Birmingham, Portsmouth and many others, but I would say that my toughest opponent was always La Balona. Not only for the quality of play but also for the incredible rivalry we’ve always had. Those games were extremely special and tough.

7) Who is the best manager you worked with at the international level and why?

I’ve been very fortunate with managers in my career, not only at Lincoln but also at the national level. I started off playing for Adolfo Ramirez, then for Charlie Cumbo. I also played under Bubi, Allen Bula, Dave Wilson and Jeff Wood. It’s extremely difficult to say who was the best manager, they were very different and different doesn’t mean that one is better than the other.

Each manager had different philosophies of football and their own ways of preparing the team. Bubi was the manager I played for the most; I played over 70 games under him and his leadership undoubtedly influenced and shaped me as a player. Adolfo gave me my debut for the national side and he directed me on the right path for my career. Charlie was my manager at Lincoln and at international level and he also helped form me as a player. It was with Dave that I played in Hampden Park and experienced UEFA international football. Jeff Wood was part of the technical team that won the gold medal in the Island Games, and it was under him that I retired (against Scotland in Faro).

All of these men have been very influential in my football career and wouldn’t like to name one in particular manager as my favourite. I have learnt a great deal from all of them and have many treasured memories from my time working under them.

8) How did it feel whilst being captain to pass on advice to the younger players who were in the same position as you when you first started?

It was very satisfying to be able to pass on my experience, including a lot of the advice that senior players gave to me when I first started playing football. My aim was to always try to give young players confidence and support, letting them know that I had been through what they were experiencing and understood the pressures and difficulties they faced. I was there to help them on and off the pitch, just like past captains did for me.

9) Looking back at your career – are you happy with everything you did?

I am extremely happy with my career; I started playing football when I was 12 years old, four years later I was playing in the first division for Lincoln, and had my debut for the national side at 16 years old. At 20 years old, I won my first league title and then managed to break every single record in Gibraltar football history with Lincoln. At one time, I was one of the youngest (at 16) and the oldest (at 35) player to play for the national side. I also had the honour of being captain for Lincoln as well as the national side for many years.

Although UEFA membership came late for me, I had the privilege of playing in the first UEFA official friendly against Slovakia and playing in Gibraltar’s match against Scotland where we scored our first goal in a European qualifier. I was also the Futsal team captain and represented Gibraltar in the first UEFA European qualifiers in Nice, getting our first win. Honestly, I cannot complain about anything in my career. Apart from all of my achievements, I’ve also made lots of friends, many of whom I probably wouldn’t have met if it wasn’t for football. I’ve enjoyed every second of my career and wouldn’t change anything.

I would like to thank everyone who has supported me and helped me along the way – especially all of my teammates, without them I wouldn’t have achieved anything and wouldn’t be the person I am today. But, most importantly, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve any of this without the support of my wife, she has been extremely supportive and motivated me in difficult times and I thank her for everything.


Coleing attracting interest from outside of Gibraltar

Europa and Gibraltar goalkeeper Dayle Coleing is believed to be attracting interest from teams in Northern Ireland, Spain’s Segunda B Division and potentially elsewhere outside of Gibraltar.

Photo © C Correa Photography

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Lincoln sign Gibraltar international Scott Wiseman

Lincoln Red Imps have this afternoon announced the signing of Salford City and Gibraltar defender Scott Wiseman on a two-year deal.

Photo (C) Rough and Ready

Wiseman, who has played his whole career in England, joins Lincoln on a two-year deal after leaving Salford on a free transfer after the termination of the English League Two season.

The 34-year-old, who can play at right-back or centre-back, has 10 caps for Gibraltar, but hasn’t featured since a 6-0 defeat to Belgium back in 2016 – however, Wiseman, talking to the official Lincoln website, said: “Earlier this year I would have been playing for the national side again”, presumably referring to the cancelled March international friendlies against Malta and Liechtenstein. His return would give another option, and one with vast experience, to Julio Ribas side ahead of the upcoming Nations League.

Wiseman, on Lincoln’s official site, continued by saying: “I’m absolutely delighted to finally get things signed. After having countless conversations with the club about coming over, it was an easy decision for myself and my family to make.” With nearly 500 appearances in English football, from the National League to the Championship, the defender will add a lot of experience to the Lincoln team for the upcoming season.


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.”


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