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Gibraltar’s women in superb performance against Belgium

In their first competitive futsal international, Gibraltar’s Women’s National Team put in a superb performance against Belgium, only being denied on penalties after a 3-3 draw after extra time.

After Kazakhstan’s withdrawal from the group due to not being able to travel to Gibraltar, yesterday’s match became a one-off knock-out match to see who qualified to the Main Qualifying Round of the Women’s Futsal Euro qualifiers. Originally due to be played last May, but rescheduled for this year, Gibraltar’s women’s national team had prepared for over a year for this historic encounter – their first competitive international in futsal, and a youthful team took to the court to face Belgium.

The team all put in great performances, but it would be two Robba’s – twin sisters Caitlin and Shania, who would shine most in Gibraltar’s performance at both ends of the court. Caitlin, who started in goal, was kept busy throughout by Belgium, and on numerous occasions came to Gib’s rescue, including saving a penalty in the final minutes of regular time, while Shania twice scored for Gib, taking the game firstly to extra time and then to penalties.

Despite starting off well, Gibraltar would find themselves 2-0 down inside five minutes, with Tine Van Roie and Pauline Tauquet scoring for the visitors. However, this setback would not halt Gibraltar’s progression, and halfway through the first half, they would get a goal back as Tiffany Viagas, after good play from Robba in attack, halved the deficit and got Gibraltar’s first ever competitive women’s futsal goal.

From that point on, Gibraltar kept on creating chances, spurred on by a capacity Tercentenary Sports Hall crowd which would prove to be one of, if not the biggest crowd seen this year at either a men’s or women’s match. They were then rewarded with an equaliser early in the second half – after Gib caught Belgium on the counter, Robba scored when one-on-one with Zelie Lambert to level the scores. This spurred on Belgium, who began to control possession, but could not find a way past Robba in the Gib goal.

Gibraltar then thought they had won it in the final seconds of the game, when a deflected corner had looked to have crossed the line, only for the Belgian defender to have been called to clear it in time – she took out the goal with her such was the close call, and despite replays seemingly showing the ball had crossed the line, such close margins would be the reason the game went to extra time.

In extra time, Van Roie would put Belgium ahead in the first half, but despite the set-back, Gib fought back, and Robba got her second, and Gib’s third of the evening, soon after to tie the scores once again. Both sides pushed for the win but could not find it, and the game went to penalties, which Belgium went on to win 5-4 – denying Gib what could fairly have been called a deserved victory, however for manager Gayle Langtry and her coaching staff, there is no doubt that they would have been immensely proud of their young team – 7 of their 12-women squad were under the age of 20, and all signs point to a bright future for Gibraltar’s women in the sport.

Lineups:

Gibraltar: C. Robba; Garcia, S. Robba, Viagas, Borrell

Subs: Revagliatte, Ferro, Neale, Salah El-Din, Holt, Victor, Mascarenhas-Olivero

Belgium: Lambert; Courtois, Deneire, Van Roie, Wijns

Subs: Suet, Meeuwis, Godier, Taquet, Taillieu, Meyers, Rosala

Yellow Cards: Viagas; Rosala

Red Cards: None

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Doody: “We will be back and we will be ready”

FG caught up with Lions Womens’ and Gibraltar’s Keshia Doody to talk about the season so far, the teams reaction to the postponement of the Womens Futsal Euro qualifiers, which were due to be held in Gib, and more.

Photo © Neil Wilson (Black & Burst Photography)

We firstly asked for her thoughts on how Lions Womens’ season had gone so far “Well before lockdown, our season had already ended with Lincoln being crowned champions. I personally don’t think we had a bad season overall but, it also wasn’t our best one. We’ve had a few changes to the squad bringing up younger players which I know they will be great assets to the team for the upcoming seasons. Us lionesses always give 100% in what we do, so I have faith we’ll be back stronger next season.

I would like to take the chance to congratulate Lincoln ladies for their title once again.”

Gibraltar were set to face Belgium and Kazakhstan in the Women’s Futsal Euro Qualifiers, in a week’s time, with Doody set to be part of that squad – were the team disappointed when the lockdown inevitably led to the qualifiers being postponed? “I think more than disappointed, we’re gutted about it. When we heard Gibraltar had been put down for the draw we were over the moon, at first it didn’t seem real as we had been waiting for this opportunity for years. The squad had already been training very hard for the past months due to having the friendly international matches over in Northern Ireland early in January which had been planned as a lead up to the upcoming Euros. So when the pandemic occurred, we couldn’t believe how close but far away our dream was.

Luckily we are all managing to stay positive about this and just waiting patiently for the time to come. Like I’ve already said to them before, we’ve waited countless of years for this opportunity, so I guess we can wait a further few months. Our health and the rest of the community’s health & safety comes first.”

With lockdown approaching two months now, we asked how the Lions Womens’ captain has approached keeping up fitness during this time: “Personally I have found it hard as I am very much a team player and don’t motivate myself to train alone. Luckily my partner is into cycling so I have been doing Gib rides as much as possible accompanied by him and motivated by him when I’ve not been at work. We have also been provided with a workout program by the GFA to do at home which I am also doing At least 3 times a week. That way I/we are as ready as possible for when we begin to get ready for the Euros once again.”

Finally, we asked Doody for her goals for the rest of 2020: “If football returns which I hope it does, my overall goal is to maintain my fitness, train hard with the girls/ squad & get back to routine with all of them. Locally my goal would have to be in winning the Rock Cup & Futsal league (*note – this interview took place before the announcement of the domestic season being terminated) and last but not least internationally my goal would be to make sure we are as ready as we can be to perform at our best at International Level when the opportunity arises again. Hopefully we will still be hosts in our homeland and make ourselves and Gibraltar proud. We will be back and we will be ready.”

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Bosio: “The Gibraltar girls put on two gutsy performances”

FG caught up with Jamie Bosio on a number of topics, including the Gibraltar women’s futsal team’s recent trip to Northern Ireland, his futsal club side Bavaria and how it feels to also be back in 11-a-side action after over a year injured, for Lincoln’s Intermediate side.

Photo (C) Rough & Ready

Bosio spent more than a year out injured but made his return with Lincoln’s Intermediate side in the latter stages of 2019 – how does it feel to be playing again? “It feels good and it has been a long road with many physical and mental challenges but I feel much stronger as a result of it.”

The midfielder, who has been capped multiple times by the national team, would understandably be a player of interest for a number of sides in January, but for now he is happy where he is: “At the moment I have no immediate playing plans but to continue with this young and talented Lincoln U23 side. Also, I’d like to focus on my future in Futsal, not just coaching but also playing in the next few years.”

Bavaria, who Bosio is involved with at a domestic futsal level, sit 7th in the league at the moment, just outside the top six spots – how does the 28-year-old view his sides season thus far? “At the moment I feel that at Bavaria we’ve had a solid start to the league season. We have one game left in the first round and our objective this season was to try to finish in the Top 6 after the league split.

This is still achievable with one game left. We’ve had a tough run of games but the performances have shown us that there is a lot of potential in our all local squad.”

A recent career development for Bosio, who outside of sport is also a teacher, is to move into coaching – most recently the Women’s Futsal National Team who are currently coached by Gayle Langtry – how has the transition from playing to coaching gone? “Being a teacher, the transition to coaching has been relatively easy as many of the traits I also find in my work life. It’s just the additional pressure of developing your knowledge in the sport, which I have been doing for the last 4 and a half years.”

The Women’s Futsal National Team continued their development over the weekend when they traveled to Northern Ireland for a double-header against their hosts – how does Bosio feel the team did? “The Gibraltar girls put on two gutsy performances against a much older and experienced opponent. Our team is relatively new to the sport of Futsal so to play the way we did, particularly in the second game, shows a lot of promise for the future.

We have some young and exciting players like Shani Robba, Reighann Olivero and Tiffany Viagas who at such a young age will only benefit from these kinds of experiences. The future is bright in Futsal!”

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Gibraltar leave Northern Ireland on a positive note

Gibraltar Men & Women squads ended their respective international friendlies against Northern Ireland this weekend with plenty of lessons and a victory.

It was the Gibraltar Women’s team that got the weekend underway with a defeat to Northern Ireland. After trailing 4-0 at half-time, Gibraltar came out much more positive in the second half and the result at full-time saw the hosts win 5-1, with the visitors only goal coming from Joelle Gilbert.

A few hours later the Men’s side were in action; Gibraltar found themselves trailing 2-1 with Naoufal El Andaloussi scoring, but the visitors were by the far the more clinical side and ran out 8-1 winners.

The Gibraltar Women’s team found themselves playing their double-header the following day and were defeated 4-0. Kyrelle Revagliatte was a player who received many plaudits for her goalkeeping display and the friendlies, in general, are ones that the team can take positives from and look to take forward.

On the final day of the international friendlies weekend, Gibraltar Men walked away with a superb victory. An own goal, one from Jaydan Parody and a Nicholas Castle brace secured the win in an end-to-end game.

The training for the Men’s team continues after this weekend, with the squad set to travel to Bosnia on the 26th to take on the host nation, Cyprus and Switzerland.

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Visitors stun Gibraltar with late comeback

Northern Ireland produced a second half comeback to stun Gibraltar and come from two goals down to win 3-2 in an action packed match at the Tercentenary Sports Hall.

After losing their opening game on Saturday 3-0, Gibraltar came into the game hoping to get revenge. The early stages were a very even contest with both keepers called into action.

As the game went on, Tiffany Viagas started to see more of the ball and was pulling the strings in all of Gibraltar’s attacks. Halfway through the first half and Gibraltar broke the deadlock through Kayleigh Ferro.

Gibraltar goalkeeper Caitlin Robba made a good save shortly after, to keep out a shot from Olivia Brown. 17 minutes played and Gibraltar doubled their lead, Shania Robba drawed the keeper off her line and squared the ball for Joelle Gilbert to smash in from close range.

The hosts were awarded two penalties in the final minute of the first half, Kayleigh Ferro hit the first one over the bar while Joelle Gilbert’s hit the post and the Northern Ireland keeper Alice Harkness showed great reflexes to keep out Tiffany Viagas’ rebound.

After a relatively even start to the second half, Shania Robba nearly made it 3-0 for Gibraltar but Harkness made an excellent save to keep out. Four minutes later, Caitlin Robba made another great save to keep out a close range shot from Mairead McCann.

A minute later, Northern Ireland pulled a goal back as Hannah Henderson bundled the ball over from a corner. Playing again in less than 24 hours really took it’s toll on Gibraltar as two late goals from Olivia Brown secured the visitors a 3-2 win.

Conclusion: This weekend would have definitely been what the Gibraltar women’s team would have hoped for going into the games. Two losses but two excellent performances – from the experience of Keisha Doody, the technical ability of Tiffany Viagas and the goalscoring prowess of Kayleigh Ferro, the foundation has been laid down for what looks to be an exciting new chapter in Women’s football.