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Chipolina the second highest scoring defender of the last 10 years

A report by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS) shows that between 2011-2020, Lincoln and Gibraltar’s Joseph Chipolina was the second highest-scoring defender in world football, only behind Sergio Ramos.

Photo (C) Johnny Napoli

The organisation, founded in 1984, collated data on goals in top national divisions, national cups, official international club tournaments, official games between national teams, and concluded that at 78 goals, Chipolina was second in the list, 11 behind the Real Madrid defender.

It isn’t clear if the statistics for Chipolina only cover from 2013 onwards, when Gibraltar became UEFA members – if so it would be even more impressive given the left-back also missed the entirety of 2020 with injury, so amassed his 78 goals counted in this list between 2013-2019.

No timeframe has been given for the return to action of the 33-year-old, who suffered his injury against Manchester 62 back in December 2019, but he has been pictured visiting training sessions at times for Lincoln, and his absence has been clearly felt by his club side.

For a full list of the players in the IFFHS rankings, click here

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Victoria Stadium confirmed to host Gibraltar’s home World Cup Qualifiers

The Gibraltar FA have today confirmed that UEFA have granted dispensation for Gibraltar to host their 2022 World Cup Qualifying home matches at the Victoria Stadium.

Photo (C) Black & Burst

The construction of a new national stadium, which was planned to start in 2020, was delayed understandably due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and with the current Victoria Stadium falling short of UEFA’s minimum requirements to host official international matches, the GFA had to apply to UEFA to extend their exemption which allowed Gib to host the Nations League in 2020, to cover the upcoming home World Cup Qualifiers.

In a statement, the GFA say: “The Gibraltar FA is very pleased to confirm that UEFA has approved it’s request to play the upcoming FIFA 2022
World Cup Qualifying Home matches at the Victoria Stadium.
In this regard, UEFA had previously confirmed to the Gibraltar FA that it would not grant any further exemptions after the UEFA Nations League 2020, to use the Victoria Stadium as a home venue for its International Matches, due to the Stadium falling short of UEFA’s minimum criteria for official international competition.
In any case, the Gibraltar FA had originally intended (pre COVID-19) to commence construction of the New National Stadium in the 3rd quarter of 2020, rendering the Victoria Stadium unavailable for at least 18-24 months.
For obvious reasons, the pandemic has delayed this original timeline, and therefore, the Victoria Stadium became available.
This delay prompted a senior Gibraltar FA delegation to make written and oral representations to UEFA in early December 2020, asking for further dispensation to allow Victoria Stadium to be used once again. After lengthy
discussions, UEFA have granted the request, on certain conditions similar to those imposed for the 2020 Euro Qualifiers.
One of the conditions is that the Victoria Stadium be used for all home matches, meaning that the construction of the New Stadium cannot commence until after the final scheduled World Cup Qualifying fixture on 16th November.Therefore the Gibraltar FA is now working towards this date, and will provide more information in the near future.
The other conditions relate to several upgrades which need to be made to the current Victoria Stadium. As such, the Gibraltar FA will shortly commence works onsite in order to meet UEFA’s conditions with ample time before its first World Cup Qualifying home match in March 2021.”

Speaking to the GFA, General Secretary Ivan Robba commented: “This is great news for the Gibraltar FA and for Gibraltar as a whole. We have been working hard with UEFA to get this exemption, as we strongly believe that this was the most sensible way forward given the difficulties that COVID19 is causing everywhere. The idea of having to play our Home matches in another country was very worrying for us, so we are extremely grateful to UEFA for understanding us and facilitating matters for us.
This now means that, COVID permitting, Gibraltar will again play world class international teams in the most prestigious international competitions on home soil. In this regard, we are very conscious of the pandemic and the
current restrictions imposed in Gibraltar as a result, so we are working and will continue to work closely with all relevant authorities to ensure that all measures are complied with accordingly.

Though it is too soon to tell, we sincerely hope, especially with the recently implemented vaccination program, that Gibraltar will be in a position to allow spectators into the Victoria Stadium to witness and experience such matches, as playing the UEFA Nations League without our supporters did not feel right at all.”

Gibraltar kick off their World Cup Qualifying campaign by hosting both Norway and the Netherlands in March 2021 – full fixtures can be found here.

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Jolley: “We’ve remained focused and will continue to do so”

FG caught up with Europa and Gibraltar defender Ethan Jolley to discuss his side’s season so far, being part of a makeshift Europa defence this season and more.

Photo (C) David Roberts

Europa are currently second in the table, behind St Joseph’s only on goal difference with the two sides yet to meet – how has the defender rated his sides season so far? “I think this season has been good so far, things have been a little different this year due to the virus & the effects it’s had on the competition. Nevertheless we’ve remained focused and will continue to do so to make sure we are ready when the league eventually resumes.”

Injuries to key defenders, such as Olmo, Sergio Sanchez and Ibrahim Ayew, means that Jolley has often been involved in makeshift defensive backlines, normally including two, or at times even three midfielders in them – the likes of Mikey Yome and David Polaco among those to fill in – how does the 23-year-old feel they have done? “Injuries will always be a part of football and this year we have had a few. The midfielders who have helped out in defence in my opinion have done just as well as any other defender. When you have good players in your squad which can adapt playing at different positions it makes it much easier to cope with injuries.”

Jolley was part of Gibraltar’s promotion-winning Nations League side, featuring in both games against Liechtenstein – how did it feel when Gib secured top spot and promotion to League C? “It’s hard to put into words how we all felt after achieving what we achieved. Even now almost 2 months later it still hasn’t completely sank in. Its a massive achievement winning an international group and being a part of it is an honour and proud to say the least.”

Finally, we asked the Europa defender what his goals were as a player: “My goals are always to do better than what i have done in previous years. I have always wanted to play abroad to learn more about football and at an international level you get a glimpse of that. All in all the goal is to train harder and stronger and from there see what the future holds.”

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Gibraltar draw Netherlands in World Cup Qualifying Group

The World Cup Qualifying Draw today saw Gibraltar drawn alongside Netherlands, Turkey, Norway, Montenegro and Latvia this evening.

Gib, who were taking part in their second World Cup Qualifying draw, were guaranteed a group of six, and were drafted into a tough group, with the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Gini Wijnaldum and Erling Haaland set to step foot on the Victoria Stadium in 2021.

The draw also offers Gib fans with some good away days – the last qualifiers saw fans go to Denmark and Switzerland, but this time Netherlands and Norway, who Gib U21s played in their last qualifying campaign, will face Julio Ribas side next year.

The qualifying campaign starts on March 2021 with a triple-header, and Gib will play all ten games next year.

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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.