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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.

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Kvilitaia breaks Gibraltar hearts

A late goal from Giorgi Kvilitaia breaks Gibraltar’s hearts as Georgia win 3-2 after second half goals from Lee Casciaro and Roy Chipolina saw Gib come from behind to draw 2-2.

Gibraltar head coach Julio Ribas made one change from the side which narrowly lost 1-0 away to Kosovo last week with Liam Walker replacing the injured Anthony Hernandez.

Mohamed Badr & Aymen Mouelhi joined Walker in the central of midfield with Lee Casciaro on the right wing, 18-year old Ethan Britto on the left and 19-year old Tjay De Barr the lone striker.

Gibraltar had the first opportunity of the match as Liam Walker volleyed the ball over from outside the box and the visitors replied shortly after with the opening goal in the 10th minute as Giorgi Kharaishvili got inbehind the defence and slotted the ball past Goldwin.

Georgia nearly doubled their lead two minutes later but Valeri Qazaishvili headed wide from inside the box. Twenty minutes in and Georgia made 2-0 as a long range strike from captain Jaba Kankava flew into the top corner which left Goldwin helpless.

The home crowds made Julio Ribas aware of their frustration for the rest of the first half with calls for more attacking football, striker Tjay De Barr found himself in a defensive position more often than not as himself and Joseph Chipolina tried to spur the team into more positive play.

Liam Walker went close to pulling a goal back in the 54 minute as he struck a low shot towards goal which Giorgi Loria excellently pushed past the post. There was a break in play shortly after as a hard challenge from Jack Sergeant on Georgia’s first goalscorer Kharaishvili left the winger unconscious and receiving medical treatment.

Gibraltar had an excellent opportunity to pull a goal back as he found himself through on goal, rounded Loria and hit the side-netting from a tight angle. Gib finally got that goal which they deserved in the second half as Lee Casciaro fired in from an Ethan Britto cross to make it 2-1 to Georgia.

Liam Walker was once again Gibraltar’s main threat going forward as he struck a long range effort which looked destined for the top corner but Loria pulled off a stunning save to keep it out. The resulting corner was delivered into the box and bundled over the line by captain Roy Chipolina to make it 2-2 with fifteen minutes to go.

80 minutes in and Julio Ribas made a double change as Andrew Hernandez & Erin Barnett replaced Mohamed Badr & Joseph Chipolina. Georgia regained the lead in the 83rd minute through Giorgi Kvilitaia.

Gibraltar appealed for a penalty in the 86th minute as Liam Walker went down in the box as he tried to waltz his way through Georgian defenders but the referee said no.

Julio Ribas made his final change in the 88th minute as Alain Pons replaced Liam Walker as they search for another equaliser. Even with the 6 minutes added time, Gibraltar could not find a third goal and Georgia won the game 3-2.

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Switzerland beat Gibraltar in Sion

A very tired-looking performance from Gibraltar saw them comfortably beaten by Switzerland in Sion.

Switzerland quickly took control of the game with Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka dictating the play with his good flow of possible in the middle. It only took the hosts six minutes to create their first chance which Edimilson Fernandes missed from close range.

The quickness in movement of the Swiss players continued to create the Gibraltar defence problems, Fernandes found himself free at the back post and saw his shot well saved by Dayle Coleing.

25 minutes into the first half and Gibraltar was forced into making their first substitution as Kyle ‘Chino’ Goldwin replaced Dayle Coleing, who walked off holding his hamstring.

Switzerland opened the scoring in the 37 minute, Denis Zakaria got his head to a corner and guided the ball into the net – a deserved lead for the hosts. Six minutes later and the hosts doubled their lead as Admir Mehmedi got on the end of a cross and headed the ball past Goldwin.

Seconds from the break and Switzerland made it 3-0 as a poor clearance from the Gibraltar defence fell to Ricardo Rodriguez whose low driven shot flew into the bottom corner from range. The referee’s whistle blew and the hosts led 3-0 at half-time.

The second half got underway with the hosts continuing to control the game and nearly made it 4-0, five minutes into the second half, but Goldwin made a great low save.

Just before the hour mark, Julio Ribas made his second change as Jamie Coombes replaced Andrew Hernandez with his brother, Anthony, moving into centre midfield.

On the 67th minute mark, Gibraltar made their final change as Ethan Britto was replaced by Alain Pons. Shortly after, Joseph Chipolina received a yellow card for a foul on Swiss captain Granit Xhaka.

Goldwin made a good save in the 82nd minute from Vargas’ volley to keep the score at 3-0. A few minutes later, Mehmedi nearly got his brace but his excellent volley went inches wide of Goldwin’s post.

Gibraltar recorded just their second attempt on goal in the 86th minute as Liam Walker’s shot from range went wide. Sommer in the Switzerland goal the game restarted and the hosts made it 4-0 through Mario Gavranovic, slotting in the rebound after the initial shot was saved by Goldwin.

The referee blew for the final whistle with Switzerland running out comfortable 4-0 winners.

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Switzerland vs Gibraltar: Preview

Gibraltar take on Switzerland at the Stade de Tourbillon in Sion at 18:00.

The hosts will be looking to get back on track after suffering a late equaliser against Ireland on Thursday night. Petkovic’s side now sit third, but with a game in hand over Denmark and two over Ireland – both sit higher than them in the table.

Benfica striker Haris Seferovic will miss the game as he has flown back for family reasons so all eyes will be on Breel Embolo to be the main attacking threat today while Mario Gavranovic is expected to replace Seferovic, according to Swiss media.

Switzerland predicted lineup: Sommer; Elvidi, Schar, Comert; Widmer, Zakaria, Xhaka, Rodriguez; Embolo, Gavranovic, Steffen

Julio will be hoping for the same type of performance, especially the first 50-60 minutes as Dayle Coleing told us in yesterday’s press conference but better refereeing will surely be Gib’s main hope.

Questionable refereeing made Gibraltar’s life even harder than it was already going to be when coming up against a top nation such as Denmark. Ribas never said no to making changes for today’s game but would probably be expected to name the same team which were defeated by the Danes.

Gibraltar predicted lineup: Coleing; Sergeant, R.Chipolina, J.Chipolina, Olivero; Annesley; Hernandez, Walker, Hernandez, Britto; De Barr

Betting:

The Swiss are undoubtedly huge favourites this evening, and the match betting isn’t even worth talking about – so we start off by looking at the correct score betting. The bookies reckon the most likely score tonight will be a 5-0 victory for the home side, at 13/2, with 6-0 close by at 6/1. Logically, the line is then set at 5 in terms of the handicap betting this evening, while, with Seferovic unavailable, Gavranovic is 100/30 to score first. An alternative option would be to back AC Milan full-back Ricardo Rodriguez to score in 90 minutes at 7/5 – he will most likely be on free kick and penalty duty.

For Gib, the goalscorer markets have thrown up some real eye-openers – with bookmaker Paddy Power having Tjay De Barr as the most likely Gib attacker to score, but at 275/1. Meanwhile, Joseph Chipolina is as short as 6/1 to score this evening – meaning that if Gib get a goal and it is someone other than Joseph, you could cash in a big winning.

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Portugal U21 vs Gibraltar U21: Preview

Gibraltar U21 will face their biggest test so far in Group 7 as they take on Portugal U21’s at 21:45 in the Complexo Desportivo FC Alverca stadium.

David Ochello will be forced to make a minimum two changes from his side which lost 10-0 to Belarus, back in early June. Michael Negrette wrote on social media that he would miss the game due to work commitments, while his team-mate for both club and country, Shaun De Los Santos was not selected in Ochello’s 19-man squad.

Julian Del Rio’s good form in both the domestic league and Intermediate has earned himself a call-up alongside Evan De Haro who recently signed for Algeciras Juvenil – two players with big futures ahead of them.

The young Portuguese side boasts some of the best young players in the world, playing football with the best teams. One player which the Gibraltar defense will have to keep an eye on is 20-year striker Rafael Leao who signed in the summer for AC Milan for a staggering €30 million.

Betting:

Unsurprisingly, Portugal are massive favourites, with the best price being 1/100, and some firms even offering 1/1500. Gibraltar are as big as 500/1 to cause one of the biggest upsets in football history, while even a draw, a similarly big upset, is 40/1.

The handicap for this match is set at 6 – unsurprising given Gib’s 10-0 defeat last time out, and in truth, there is little value outside of the handicap when betting on games like these.

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Ribas announces squad for September European Qualifiers

Gibraltar senior head coach, Julio Ribas has announced his squad for September’s European Qualifiers against Denmark at home on the 5th & Switzerland away on the 8th.

Ribas had originally announced a 30-man squad but removing the seven players which have travelled with the U21’s for their qualifier against Portugal – below is the 23-man squad:

  • Dayle Coleing (Europa)
  • Matt Cafer (Bruno Magpies)
  • Kyle Goldwin (Lincoln Red Imps)
  • Louie Annesley (Blackburn Rovers)
  • Erin Barnett (Boca Juniors)
  • Ethan Britto (Lincoln Red Imps)
  • Jared Buhagiar (Bruno Magpies)
  • Joseph Chipolina (Lincoln Red Imps)
  • Roy Chipolina (Lincoln Red Imps)
  • Ethan Jolley (Europa)
  • Jean Carlos Garcia (Bruno Magpies)
  • Aymen Mouelhi (St Joseph’s)
  • Jayce Olivero (Europa)
  • Brad Power (Lynx)
  • Jason Pusey (Europa)
  • Jack Sergeant (Europa)
  • Andrew Hernandez (St Joseph’s)
  • Anthony Hernandez (Lincoln Red Imps)
  • Alain Pons (St Joseph’s)
  • Liam Walker (Europa)
  • Jamie Coombes (Lincoln Red Imps)
  • Tjay De Barr (Real Oviedo B)
  • Reece Styche (Hereford)

The seven players named on the standby list are Ethan Santos, Jamie Serra, Ethan Thorne-Llambias, Jaydan Parody, James Parkinson, Ayoub El Hmidi and Dylan Peacock.