Post match interview with Bernardo Lopes after Lincoln beat Europa 2-0 to clinch the Premier Division shield.
Gibraltar football’s top two collide on Saturday night, with Lincoln hoping to retain the Premier Division shield – but rivals Europa stand in their way in what would most likely be a title decider.
Reigning champions Lincoln have a two point lead in the table heading into Saturday’s game and have scored eleven more goals than their opponents Europa.
Even though both teams will be desperate for a win, drawing could be a risk that Lincoln may not want to take. Depending on results elsewhere, Mons Calpe, who face Lincoln on the final day, could still be in with a chance of qualifying for the Europa League, while Europa take on FC Boca Juniors.
Since taking over in mid-December, Victor Afonso has recorded eight straight wins, since a draw against Europa on the 16th February, and will be hoping to continue the run this Saturday.
Joseph Chipolina is one player which Victor will be hoping is fully fit. Lincoln’s top goalscorer this season hasn’t featured since scoring in their 3-0 win over Gibraltar Phoenix on the 8th March, while Lolo Soler will be expected to return between the sticks with Jaylan Hankins moving to the bench despite a very successful couple of months.
Their opponents Europa have also been on an excellent run of form; you need to date back to the 25th of November 2018 for their last defeat and it was against none other than Lincoln.
After losing five of arguably their best players and their manager in the betting scandal, Europa have still managed to turn their season into a positive one with a title decider on Saturday and facing Gibraltar United in the Gibtelecom Rock Cup final.
They needed players to step up and it would be their locals players which would steer the ship to Christmas. The club would go on to sign five players in January and announce a new coach in Rafael Escobar in February.
Escobar waltzed into Gibraltar football with a debut win over Lincoln in the Rock Cup and since then has gone undefeated with ten wins and two draws. Javi Munoz will be expected to return as Europa’s number one with Coleing making his way to the bench, who just like Hankins, has had a very successful couple of months.
We, just like everyone else, hope that Saturday’s game can live up the hype and provide the fans with a great spectacle. Entrance to the match is free, and if you can’t make it to the Victoria Stadium, you can follow it live on our Twitter and Facebook accounts.
We spoke to Lincoln captain Roy Chipolina about his sides league campaign, Tjay De Barr and more.
Lincoln go into Saturday’s game two points clear of their opponents Europa with two games remaining. Roy reflects on his sides campaign so far, “We have had our ups and downs this season. Starting in our European campaign, I felt we were unlucky not to progress in both our Champions league and Europa league ties but that’s football. Investment was made in strengthening our squad but the chopping and changing of managers hasn’t helped in settling and gelling what has been a new look Lincoln side. At Lincoln, standards and expectations are very high and though we have had some excellent results we have had some disappointing ones too. Since Victor took over just before Christmas I do feel the team has been progressing well and is looking the best it has been all season which is perfect timing as we will need to be at our very best if we are to come away with a victory on Saturday.”
We asked the Lincoln captain how his side are feeling going into Saturday’s title decider, “The team is feeling confident. I believe recently we have seen this on the field with some very good performances such as our recent wins versus St Joseph’s and Gibraltar United. We know Europa is a fantastic team and there are very fine margins between us, as recent results suggest. We are ready and are very much looking forward to Saturday’s battle with only one thing on our mind and that is to win and retain our title.”
One player Roy will have to keep an eye out on is in-form Tjay De Barr who he knows very well from club and country. We asked Roy what he has made of the newly appointed Europa captain’s season, “What can i say about Tjay that hasn’t been said already? Apart from being a great lad, he is a fantastic player with so much potential. He has had a great season and even at his tender age has been mature enough to carry the responsibility of being such an important and reliable player for Europa and the national team. Nothing seems to faze him. With his explosive power and pace he will be a real danger.”
As Lincoln managed to grow a two point lead over Europa in the title race, the current league leaders have won both the Football Gibraltar Player of the Month and Manager of the Month awards for April
Photo (C) Rough and Ready Media
Player of the Month – Sergio Molina Rivero (Lincoln Red Imps)
Lincoln, as mentioned above, are now two points clear in the title race with just three games to go, and key to their 100% record last month was Sergio Molina really stepping up for his side and adding yet another goalscoring threat to Lincoln’s potent attack force. The ex-Balona man scored twice, including a world class free kick vs Lynx, and has now made himself an integral part of the first eleven, having played the full 90 in five of his last six matches.
Closely behind him this month in second place was his teammate, Marcos Perez, who has arguably gone under the radar with his performances and his part in helping Lincoln towards a potential league title, while Europa’s Tjay De Barr, who was instrumental in wins vs Lions and St Joseph’s, but couldn’t repeat the feat against Gib United, is third in this months award – all three will no doubt be very important in the title race.
Manager of the Month – Victor Manuel Afonso Mateo (Lincoln Red Imps)
The only manager with a 100% record last month, Afonso has kept his Lincoln side both fresh and consistent, no mean feat considering we are in the business end of the season, and he should be credited for that. The win vs Lions may have been expected, but Lincoln still had to navigate what were potentially tricky matches vs Gib United and Lynx – something they managed successfully to put themselves in pole position ahead of next weekend’s potential title decider vs Europa.
Perhaps unlucky to finish second is Glacis manager Jesus Napolitano, who managed to steer his side to two wins and a creditable draw vs Phoenix in April – ending a run of six straight defeats from the start of February to the end of March. Napolitano has seemingly steadied the Glacis ship for now – Europa manager Rafael Escobar finishes third this month in this award.
After Lions Women’s win over Lincoln Women, we spoke to Kayleigh Ferro about her Rock Cup triumph, scoring four goals in the final and much more.
Lions beat Lincoln 6-0 to clinch this season’s Rock Cup, we asked Kayleigh how she felt the team played – “I think we all played well, we set our minds out to win this game and we did.”
Not only did Kayleigh win the Rock Cup with her team, she was also announced as the Player’s Player of the Season – we asked how it felt winning both accolades, “Its overwhelming to win the Rock Cup and Player’s Player. I think i’ve worked hard for the award and my team have worked hard for the Cup.”
A couple of weeks ago, Lincoln beat Lions on the final day of the season to win the Women’s Football League. Kayleigh reflected on how she felt the campaign went – “I feel that my team worked very hard and deserved to win the league but football is unfair. Well done to Lincoln though for winning it.”
At just 17 years old and plenty of years to improve – we asked what her goals for the future are, “My goals are to do well in future competitions with my team and the national squad. Also to win next years League & Cup and overall improve as a player.”
The Gibtelecom Rock Cup second round kicks off tomorrow evening and here are our predictions.
St Joseph’s vs FC Hound Dogs (Wednesday 6th February – 8:30pm)
Saints come into the game on the back of a 8-0 thrashing of Glacis and would be expected to continue that goalscoring form against the side which sit bottom of the Second Division. Raul Procopio’s squad isn’t the biggest so we could see him putting out a strong squad.
Prediction: St Joseph’s win.
Mons Calpe vs College 1975 (Thursday 7th February – 6:15pm)
Just like the St Joseph’s game, this one will probably end up in a quite heavy scoreline. College got beat 5-1 by Manchester 62 in the Cup last weekend, while Mons Calpe will be looking for a confidence booster after their defeat to Gibraltar United. With a bigger squad, Blanco could use certain players from his Intermediate squad for some valuable minutes.
Prediction: Mons Calpe win.
Lincoln Red Imps vs Europa (Thursday 7th February – 8:30pm)
It was raining goals for Lincoln last weekend as they shipped eleven past Boca – Giovanni Rodriguez and Hector Figueroa have impressed since joining in January while ex-Europa forward Kike got himself a hat-trick on his debut. The holders will be hoping to try and get one over their rivals after losing 3-2 earlier on in the season but could see defeat as a blessing with more focus being put into winning the league.
Prediction: Lincoln win.
Manchester 62 vs Gibraltar United (Friday 8th February – 8:30pm)
It has been a difficult few months for Gibraltar United but last week’s win over Mons Calpe could be the turning point needed and they’d hope to continue it against Manchester. The Red Devils invested well in January and it showed in their Cup win against College with ex-Gib Utd striker Robert Montovio getting on the scoresheet but their number one keeper Christian Lopez saw red which will give them a problem going into the game.
Prediction: Gibraltar United win.
Lynx vs Gibraltar Phoenix (Saturday 9th February – 4pm)
This one could be a very interesting tie; two sides doing well at the moment with Phoenix slightly edging it with more goals scored. Lynx have proved to be a tough test to Lincoln and Europa in the last couple of weeks so their opponents should not take them lightly.
Prediction: Phoenix win on penalties.
Glacis United vs Lions (Saturday 9th February – 6:15pm)
Lions will be looking to exact revenge after their 3-1 loss in January, it was quite an even game until conceding an own goal just before half-time which ultimately changed the game. Glacis will be hoping to welcome Alan Parker and Nacho Fernandez back into the squad while Mariano Pereira and Courtney Lewis miss out through suspension.
Prediction: Lions win on penalties.
Europa Point vs FC Olympique (Saturday 9th February – 8:30pm)
Another interesting encounter -, both teams in good form and in with a good chance of progressing. Europa Point will be happy to welcome back their main man Cristian Nunez Chaves from suspension while their opponents come into the game off the back of a whopping 12-3 win over Leo in the 2nd Division Cup.
Prediction: Olympique win on penalties.
FC Boca Juniors vs Brunos Magpies (Sunday 10th February – 4pm)
Magpies did take a heavy hit to their squad in January but with a front three of Assumpcao, Wyatt & Cuesta – it doesn’t really matter what is behind you, they are that good. Yet to be properly tested in the Second Division, Dave Wilson’s men will be looking at the Rock Cup as a idea of where the club is going ahead of next season. It will be another difficult task for Boca and one which we don’t see them winning.
Prediction: Magpies win.