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Viagas: “We need help from the association to get allocations in order to keep on improving”

We caught up with Lincoln Red Imps Women’s captain Tiffany Viagas to get her thoughts on her sides recent win over Lions, the development of Women’s football over the years and more.

Lincoln maintained their 100% start to the Women’s League with a 4-2 win over Lions – Tiffany reflected on her team’s performance, “The team put in a strong performance against a tough side. Our quick passing and movement off the ball made us a threat going forward, creating numerous chances in the opposition’s box. The whole team worked hard throughout the game, which saw our efforts rewarded with the 3 points, giving us a 6 point lead at the top of the league. However, the result was overshadowed with the injury of our player Shania. I hope she recovers soon!”

We asked Tiffany how she’s felt Women’s Football has developed over the years, “Over the past years, women’s football in Gibraltar is becoming more popular in the younger age groups. The Under 16s national team came second out of four teams at a development tournament in Malta, which saw them win against Albania (3-0) and a draw against Andorra (1–1). There is definitely a bright future ahead for the national team and for the women’s league but we need help from the association to get allocations in order to keep on improving and keep players motivated.”

We asked Tiffany what she would like to see in Women’s Football for the game to continue to improve, “I would like to see other clubs in the men’s premier division putting out a team in the women’s league. This way we can get more women involved in the game and making the league more exciting for all teams involved. I would also like to see the senior national team going to participate in competitions such as the Euro Qualifiers as I believe we have a strong and hard-working team and showed in our previous tournament at the Island Games that we are no pushover.”

Tiffany gave us an insight into how her trial with FC Twente Vrouwen went last summer, “My week’s trial at FC Twente was a dream come true. Shania and I trained for a week with the Eredivise champions, where we trained with Dutch national team players. We would train once or twice a day, and we worked on different aspects of the game. We also played a match with FC Twente against German side Borussia Bocholt, where we were able to make a good account for ourselves. Shania and I both received very positive feedback from the head coach and a return to the club is very close by. The experience was amazing and I learned a lot during my time there. I would like to thank Bennie Brinkman for making this possible.”

Finally, we asked Tiffany what her aims are for football – “My aim is to keep working hard and to hopefully turn my dream into a reality which is to play football aboard at a professional club and keep representing and giving it my best when playing for the national team.”

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Juanfri and Afonso win FG monthly awards in October

As we get closer to the league split after the first round, St Joseph’s Juanfri and Lincoln manager Victor Afonso pick up Player of the Month and Manager of the Month for October.

Photo © C Correa Photography

FG Player of the Month – Juan Francisco ‘Juanfri’ Garcia Pena (St Joseph’s)

With most of the top 3 only in action once or twice this month, October was never likely to have too much of a say in the title race, but St Joseph’s, who did play twice, made sure they kept up their unbeaten start to the season. With 7 goals in 2 games, as well as consecutive TOTW appearances, Juanfri edges his team-mate Boro, who got 5 in 2, to the top spot this month. Like last season, the vast majority of Saints goals come from this pair, and if they stay fit, they could be key for the title race in 2020.

  1. Juan Francisco ‘Juanfri’ Garcia Pena (St Joseph’s)
  2. Salvador Manuel ‘Boro’ Alegre Delgado (St Joseph’s)
  3. German Cortes Narvaes (FC Boca Gibraltar)

FG Manager of the Month – Victor Afonso (Lincoln Red Imps)

With seemingly so few games in October, this was actually a hard decision to make with regards manager of the month. The only two coaches to win two games were Raul Procopio and Lincoln’s Victor Afonso, but on paper Lincoln’s two games were the harder matches so we’ve chosen to give the Lincoln manager the award for a second consecutive month. A special mention should go to now-former Boca manager Juan Maria Sanchez, who led Boca to a draw and win in October but stepped down from the club this morning.

  1. Victor Afonso (Lincoln Red Imps)
  2. Raul Procopio (St Joseph’s)
  3. Juan Maria Sanchez (FC Boca Gibraltar)
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Gibraltar National League: The Christmas run-in

With nearly two-thirds of the first round of fixtures already taking place, and only 24 matches left before the National League splits in two at Christmas, we look at where each of the 12 teams are, and their chances of reaching the top 6 by Christmas and the end of the first round.

Photo © C Correa Photography

1st Place – Lincoln Red Imps – 18 points – 4 games left

100% they will be in the Championship Group. Lincoln’s opening-day loss to Europa has been forgotten about by the side, who have won their next six in a row. The only major challenge left before Christmas will be against St Joseph’s – three points would be important as well as set a market to the rest of the league.

2nd Place – St Joseph’s FC – 17 points – 4 games left

Like Lincoln, Saints will be in the top six. The late draw vs Lynx wasn’t ideal, but St Joseph’s have been good this season and are threatening to make the title-race a three-team affair. As long as they keep the front two of Juanfri and Boro fit and firing, Saints are a match for anyone – a result vs Lincoln before the New Year would be a massive statement of intention.

3rd Place – Europa FC – 16 points – 5 games left

Again, Europa are one of the teams definitely going to the Championship Group. Bar a dramatic draw vs St Joseph’s, Europa have rarely looked troubled all season and if they see through the game vs Lynx with no hiccups, they are likely to be top come the split. January will be interesting for Europa – do they stick with the squad that has served them so well so far, or add one or two players in the window who may potentially be the difference between a title and no title?

4th Place – Bruno’s Magpies – 15 points – 3 games left

Magpies should really be safe now. A little wobble with three defeats in a row raised some doubts over the side, but the back-to-back wins vs Europa Point and Boca means they should get over the line at Christmas. They have hard fixtures vs Lincoln and St Joseph’s to come, but by the time they face Manchester in their last game, we’d be surprised if their top six spot wasn’t mathematically secured. The challenge will be whether they invest even further on new players in January, especially with new manager Alfonso Cortijo undoubtedly wanting some of his own players in.

5th Place – Lynx FC – 14 points – 4 games left

Lynx have a fairly nice run-in in which to accumulate points before the Championship Group, which they seem certain to get into. If they can ensure 7 to 9 points against Manchester, College and Glacis, then Albert Parody’s side will be in a healthy position post-Christmas – the draw vs St Joseph’s showed they can make life difficult for the top three as well and teams won’t necessarily want to play them.

6th Place – Mons Calpe SC – 11 points – 3 games left

Having points on the board is traditionally better than games in hand, as the cliché goes, but it looks like going to the wire for Mons Calpe. Two of their last three games are against St Joseph’s and Europa, making the match vs Manchester 62 a must-win. Even then, 14 points isn’t guaranteed to be enough. They were stubborn vs Lincoln though, and there is every chance of nicking a result against one of the current top 3, but if they don’t, it will be a nervy end to the year for Leo Vela’s side.

7th Place – Manchester 62 – 7 points – 5 games left

Looking purely at the table, you’d say Manchester have the best chance of jumping into the top six from the bottom six sides. However, only one of their last five games is versus a team below them, which make new manager David Wilson’s task that bit tougher. The big two games will be against Mons Calpe and Europa Point – especially the game against Mons – if they can beat the team above them on the 30th November, and follow it with a win vs Europa Point, then they may have a chance of top six, depending on other results.

8th Place – FC Boca Gibraltar – 6 points – 4 games left

Boca aren’t in a bad position table wise, but the fixtures are not too kind to them, given they face Europa and Lincoln in their next two matches. After that though, they’ll need to beat Glacis in order to set up a tantalising final round game vs Lions. Talk of off-the-field issues at the club will need to be shaken off as soon as possible if the club wants to take that sixth spot and work from there in 2020.

9th Place – Lions Gibraltar – 6 points – 4 games left

Whisper it quietly, but Lions could have a chance of sneaking into the top six while no one is watching them. The win against Manchester was vital, not just because it was their first of the season, but because it kept their Championship Group hopes alive. Three of their remaining four games are against fellow bottom six sides, including matches vs Glacis and College, while their final game against Boca could be a winner-takes-all fixture depending on how Mons finish. Albert Ferri has made his team more resolute defensively; if they can improve on their poor scoring form so far, then we may see last season’s 9th place team end in 6th.

10th Place – Europa Point FC – 5 points – 3 games left

Despite only being a point behind Lions and Boca, and only two off Manchester, the lack of games left for Europa Point means that a top six finish in truth seems unlikely. To achieve this, the side would have to beat Manchester and College, while most likely also getting a surprise result against St Joseph’s too. Even then, they would still be relying on other team’s results going in their favour – it isn’t looking promising for Allen Bula’s side.

11th Place – Glacis United FC – 3 points – 5 games left

Glacis have slowly built themselves back up after a heavily disrupted start to the season, and while qualifying for the Championship Group does seem beyond them, they could still have an influence on who does make the top 6. Games against Boca and especially Lions will be tight affairs and if Glacis can take points off those teams, the likes of Manchester and Mons Calpe would be the most likely beneficiaries.

12th Place – College 1975 FC – 0 points – 4 games left

Although mathematically still possible, it is safe to say College are not qualifying for the top 6. Without so much as a point yet this season, they have been up against it from the first gameweek, and realistically these last four games should be used to try and improve where possible ahead of going into the Challenge Group, where hopefully they won’t be on the end of results such as the 12-0 and 9-1 they have suffered in recent weeks.

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Molina: “Our game plan worked and we beat them comfortably”

We caught up with Lincoln Red Imps midfielder Sergio Molina to get his thoughts on last Sunday’s win over Lions, scoring three hat-tricks in three consecutive games and more.

Molina reflected on Lincoln’s 7-1 win over Lions last Sunday, “We knew that Lions had some tight results in their previous games and that we would need a lot of rhythm in our play if we wanted to hurt them. Luckily, our game plan worked and we beat them comfortably.”

After missing out in Lincoln’s opening 4-1 defeat to Europa, Molina has played in their last three games and has scored a hat-trick in them all. We asked him how it felt to be able to help the team win three on the bounce, “I have never scored a hat-trick in 3 consecutive games so personally, I am very happy with that. It’s also a great feeling to help the team and add three more points.”

With one more game remaining until the international break, Lincoln currently sit fourth with Europa, St Joseph’s and Lynx sitting above them – we asked Molina if this season will be more competitive than the last, “The league is quite tight at this part of the competition. I think that like last year, until practically the end, we will not know who will be champion.”

The 35-year has played for Spanish clubs such as Albacete, Real Jaen, Balona and also a short stint in Greece with Panthrakikos Komotini. We asked that with the experience he has gained, what does he think should be done so football in Gibraltar moves in the right direction – he replied, “Football is a complicated sport in terms of all things that surrounds it. I think that the most important thing is to promote the lower categories, to lay the foundations, and in the long run, the kids will progress from all aspects of football. The technical work, tactical etc and as time goes by, they will become more prepared and contribute more to football in Gibraltar so little by little, football will continue to grow.”




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Gibraltar National League 2019 preview

The newly reconstructed Gibraltar National League season is upon us, kicking off today when Lynx take on Mons Calpe at 20:30, so read below our preview, where we attempt to predict the outcome of the league.

Who will win the title? Lincoln Red Imps are looking to retain their crown again, but will face stiff competition from Europa once more, while St Joseph’s, Mons Calpe and newboys Brunos Magpies have all spent heavily to reinforce their squads and try to close the gap.

Who will finish in the top eight? The new inclusion of the “Championship Group” sees the league split and the top seven seperated and battle it out between themselves for the league. The winner particpates in the UEFA Champions League, while the two runners-up move to the UEFA Europa League (depending the outcome of the Gibtelecom Rock Cup).

Your easy choices would be Lincoln Red Imps, Europa, St Joseph’s and Mons Calpe. Gibraltar Phoenix & Gibraltar United’s withdrawal leaves more empty spots to join the aforementioned four teams. We would expect Brunos Magpies to take advantage of this, while joining them would be Lynx and Lions.

The Challenge Group? Manchester 62 should be favourites and will provide tough competition with Lynx & Lions in the Championship Group. Leo announced a host of good signings earlier on in the season and led by Dani Amaya, could be favourites to win the group. College 1975 have been very quiet throughout the summer and if the signing of ex-St Joseph’s & Lions striker Jose Luis Romero is anything to go by, they could be real underdogs to even sneak into the Championship Group.

Europa Point have had a strong finish to their preseason, their only problem would be finding enough HGP’s – they will be hoping they can pick up some from Phoenix & Gib Utd. Boca have been relatively quiet this summer, apart from the announcement of their new head coach Christian Ressa, it’s been a ‘hush hush’ transfer window so it’ll be interesting to see the team they put out on Tuesday night.

Glacis will be hoping their financial troubles behind them and try to reach the heights they did back in 2016, but with players still reportedly stating they are missing wages from the second half of last season looks like it’ll be another long season for them.

Last but not least FC Olympique, a team which looks to be struggling to get a full squad together. However, with their game against Gibraltar United expected to be cancelled, it could actually be a blessing in disguise to give the club more time to bring in much needed players and compete at this level.

Gibraltar National League prediction:

  1. Europa FC
  2. Lincoln Red Imps
  3. St Joseph’s
  4. Brunos Magpies
  5. Mons Calpe
  6. Lynx
  7. Lions
  8. Manchester 62
  9. College 1975
  10. Leo FC
  11. Europa Point
  12. Glacis United
  13. FC Boca Juniors
  14. FC Olympique
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Liam Walker wins it for Europa

An early goal by Liam Walker secured Europa a 1-0 win over their rivals Lincoln and sealed his side the Pepe Reyes Memorial Cup for a second consecutive season.

Lincoln with Kike, Lee Casciaro and George Cabrera all injured which left Victor Afonso starting their newly signed striker Idelino Gomes while Chino was given a surprise debut ahead of first choice keeper Lolo Soler.

Europa started life without Tjay De Barr with Dayle Coleing, Ethan Jolley, Jayce Olivero and Captain Liam Walker starting while Rafa Escobar handed debuts to Juampe, Adrian Gallardo, Sergio Sanchez, Marco Rosa and Fernando Velasco.

We only had to wait four minutes for the first goal as Juampe dribbled past Joseph Chipolina and played a low ball towards Liam Walker, whose shot from 25-yards left Chino rooted to the spot, giving the holders Europa a 1-0 lead.

Lincoln came battling back and debutant Blas Alvarez’s deflected shot nearly found its way into the bottom corner but went out for a corner which Dayle Coleing caught superbly. Juampe was having fun on the right hand side, continuously finding himself in a good attacking position but his final ball was swept up by the Lincoln defence.

Anthony Hernandez played a good through ball to Gato whose shot from a tight angle went wide. Shortly after Gato found himself behind Jayce Olivero again and fired a low shot towards goal which Coleing got a strong hand to it to keep it out.

The game evened out and the first half ended with Europa leading 1-0 courtesy of Liam Walker.

The second half got underway with Lincoln on the front-foot and a mix-up at the back nearly led to an equaliser but Gomes was unable to capitalise and Jayce Olivero cleared the danger at the backpost.

Juampe’s continued to be cause the Lincoln defence problems, his pace proved too much for Roy Chipolina and his pass found Adrian Gallardo whose first time shot went just over the crossbar. Europa nearly doubled their lead in the 53rd minute as Velasco’s shot took a deflection off Roy Chipolina and rolled inches wide of the post.

Dayle Coleing was slow to react to Sergio Molina’s shot from range which hit the post, Lincoln appealed to what looked like to be a certain corner but the referee awarded a goal-kick. Around 15 minutes to go and trailing 1-0, Lincoln brought on Jamie Coombes to replace Sergio Molina while Europa swapped out their strikers with Manu Dimas coming on for Adrian Gallardo.

A few minutes later, Ethan Britto replaced Roy Chipolina with Joseph Chipolina receiving the captain’s armband and moving into the centre of defence.

Europa kept their nerve for the remainder of the game and walked away with the first piece of silverware of the season, beating Lincoln 1-0.

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Saints draw in Kosovo while Lincoln & Europa lose

A goal from Juanfri secured a 1-1 draw for St Joseph’s away in Kosovo while Lincoln & Europa suffered defeats but the use of 3 Gibraltarians across 33 players left a sour taste in Gibraltar.

Two minutes into their opening UEFA Champions League preliminary and the hosts Feronikeli made it 1-0 through Mendurim Hoti. The rest of the game was quite even, very few chances were created and the Kosovan Champions held on to progress – they will play TNS in 1QR after beating Santa Coloma on Friday.

The Imps started with Roy Chipolina & Joseph Chipolina with Anthony Hernandez coming on in the 74th minute. Lee Casciaro missed out after recovering from injury while new signing Ethan Britto didn’t make the squad.

Talk before the game had this game as a Europa win all over it and it should have been but a poor defensively display could cost them dearly. Adrian Gallardo fired Europa into a 1-0 lead in the 4th minute but the hosts would equalise on the stroke of half-time.

One minute into the second half and Europa made it 2-1, Juampe’s cross found Fernando Velasco and his effort was turned into his own net by Senah Mango.

On the 64th minute, the hosts equalised against through Joel Mendez getting his second of the evening. Europa couldn’t make use of the extra-man advantage and Pedro Munoz would make it 3-2 to Sant Julia in the 93rd minute.

Liam Walker was the only Gibraltarian starting for Europa last Thursday. Dayle Coleing & Tjay De Barr picked up apparent knocks while Ethan Jolley, Mikey Yome, Jason Pusey & Jayce Olivero were all named on the bench.

After beating Europa last season, next up for Prishtina would be St Joseph’s. The hosts pretty much dominated from start to finish, having a total of 17 goal attempts with 5 on target.

Francisco Mateo Vera started in goal for Saints and pulled off an incredible piece of goalkeeping to prevent Shillova scoring a tap-in after Kreshnik Uka’s shot hit the crossbar and bounced on the line. Shortly after Prishtina made it 1-0 as captain Armend Daliku scored from the penalty spot after Shillova was brought down by Ezequiel Rojas.

Doing what Lincoln & Europa were not able to do, St Joseph’s scored in Kosovo. Just three minutes after conceding, a cross by Cristian Pecci was met by the head of Juanfri and he guided the ball into the bottom left corner.

Saints were able to hold on and take a 1-1 draw into next Tuesday’s return leg. The impressive result would not be the talking point, with many people voicing their frustrations over the use of 0 Gibraltarian’s in their starting lineup – a repeat of last season’s second leg tie against B36 Torsavn.

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Bardon: “We must continue to provide a platform for the youngsters to get better”

Part One of our three part series with Anthony Bardon as we talk about his time at Manchester 62, Lincoln Red Imps and much more.

  • FG – How would you look at your time at Man62?
  • Bardon – Man62 was the first club that took me in as a player in Gibraltar and I have to always thank them as they made me feel so welcome and one of their own from the very start. It was a great time in which I learned about Gibraltar football in the short 6 months we had together.
  • FG – How did it feel signing for Lincoln Red Imps?
  • Bardon – Signing for Lincoln was something I couldn’t turn down. They showed great interest in me becoming a Lincoln player so I couldn’t say no and it was the best decision I ever made playing there for the best part of 4-5 years.
  • FG – You won many trophies at Lincoln but what is your greatest achievement?
  • Bardon – My greatest achievement was when we beat Celtic. Not only that we beat them but the whole 11 months was an incredible season and that was the icing on the cake.
  • FG – How has your time at Lincoln benefitted you as a player?
  • Bardon – Lincoln benefitted me greatly because it provided me with an opportunity to train with quality players every single day, and it turned me into a much better overall player in everything.
  • FG – Since the day you arrived to when you left, what your thoughts on football in Gibraltar?
  • Bardon – From the day I came to the day I left the football in Gibraltar was so much different. The league when I left to when I started was so much different and the quality was on another level. Football in Gibraltar now is in such an important moment and we must continue to provide a platform for the youngsters to get better.
  • FG – Who is the best player you’ve played with?
  • Bardon – The best player overall would be Lee Casciaro. We fought every game and constantly got into each other but it’s because we only wanted to win. He is an incredible athlete and player.
  • FG – Who is the toughest opponent you’ve come across in the league?
  • Bardon – Mustapha Yahaya. He was the most complete and most dominant midfielder I ever faced. He is a very good player.
  • FG – Who is the best manager you’ve worked with?
  • Bardon – Julio Ribas. He has been a football father figure to me. He is an inspiration and beyond smart.
  • FG – What local player/s do you think have the most potential to succeed as a professional?
  • Bardon – I think Tjay De Barr, Jayce Olivero and Louie Annesley are the players with the age and talent to make it. Two of them now are in pro clubs and have a real chance and Jayce can do the same. Another one is Ethan Britto.
  • FG – What is your view on the new rules being implemented by the Gibraltar FA in regard of HGP & 1 league?
  • Bardon – I don’t like the 1 league because I think it kills the competition in the lower half towards the end of the season. Many problems could arise with that I feel, but we all trust the GFA to make the right decision. HGP rule is tricky because we have to get more locals playing, but not lose the quality of play because we need our best players playing at the highest level possible every week. Again, we all have to put our faith and trust in the GFA.
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Lincoln and Europa battle for Premier Division title

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.