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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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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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FG Awards 2019 information

With the season now fully over and some players beginning their holidays, while others start preparing for Internationals next week, we will be announcing our yearly awards.

Part One will be unveiled on Tuesday 28th May – below are the categories:

  • Goalkeeper of the Season
  • Defender of the Season
  • Midfielder of the Season
  • Striker of the Season
  • Manager of the Season

Part Two will be unveiled immediately after Part One, but the winners will not be announced until Sunday 2nd June – below are the categories:

  • Young Player of the Season
  • Player of the Season
  • Second Division Young Player of the Season
  • Second Division Player of the Season
  • Second Division Manager of the Season
  • Adam Roberts’ Team of the Season
  • Daniel Griffin’s Team of the Season
  • Premier Division Bottom Half Team of the Season
  • Fans Young Player of the Season
  • Fans Player of the Season
  • Fans Team of the Season
  • Fans Premier Division Bottom Half Team of the Season

Part Three will be our season reviews and you can read about that next week.

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Julian Lopez impresses as Europa Point finish second

Julian Lopez scored an impressive 14 goals in 8 league games to help Europa Point finish second in the Second Division.

The 27-year old joined Europa Point in a major rebuild after failures from the previous owners left the club in a bad state; John Gontier took back full control in January.

Despite losing their top players like Alexis Sanchez and Christian Nunez, Gontier would bring in twelve players in January which included Stefan Oliva & Aidan Casey who were at the club last season, Lions goalkeeper Kaaron Macedo, Europa’s Jonathan Rodriguez Parragues and Julian Lopez (just to name a few).

The wins would soon starting rolling in and in Julian Lopez case, the goals also. Lopez would score a staggering 14 goals in 8 league games which would result in six wins, two losses and a very respectable second place finish.

With the two leagues expected to merge next season – what’s next for Julian Lopez?

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Gibtelecom Rock Cup Quarter Final: Predictions

The Gibtelecom Rock Cup quarter-finals kicks off tomorrow and here are our predictions.

Gibraltar United vs FC Olympique (Tuesday 12th March – 18:15)

After losing to St Joseph’s last weekend, Gib Utd’s only possible chance of getting into Europe would be winning this year’s Rock Cup. Olympique were unlucky in the final of the Second Division Cup, losing 2-1 to Magpies but with match fitness playing a major factor in their defeat then you’d expect the same to happen again.

Prediction: Gibraltar United win.

St Joseph’s vs Mons Calpe (Tuesday 12th March – 20:30)

A tasty fixture indeed, Saints flying while Mons’ victory over Boca would be a good confidence booster after a poor run of results. Mons have won three of their last five meeting against Saints but with Boro & Juanfri scoring 36 goals between them, you just feel that they’ll play a big part tomorrow night.

Prediction: St Joseph’s win.

Gibraltar Phoenix vs Lions Gibraltar (Wednesday 13th March – 18:15)

Like Gibraltar United, Phoenix’s defeat to Lincoln last weekend leaves them with winning the Rock Cup as their only chance of qualifying into Europe. You would expect Labra and co to sweep aside Lions and progress.

Prediction: Gibraltar Phoenix win.

Brunos Magpies vs Europa (Wednesday 13th March – 20:30)

In an interview with FG, Matheus Assumpcao spoke about how he wished to test himself against Europa and two days later, Magpies’ star-man got his wish. After going unbeaten in the Second Division and winning the Second Division Cup, Europa will be their biggest task this season. We’d be expecting a professional display from the holders as they can’t afford to switch off against Assumpcao, Wyatt and Cuesta.

Prediction: Europa win.

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Finnlay Wyatt’s winner seals Second Division Cup triumph

Finnlay Wyatt and Ross Gray scored in the second half to win the Second Division Cup as Brunos Magpies came from behind to beat Olympique 2-1.

Magpies had a major let-off early on as Angel Rojo Laguna found himself through on goal and instead of squaring the ball to his team-mate, took the shot on and missed.

Olympique kept pushing and broke the deadlock with 13 minutes played as Alejandro ‘Carenote’ Gonzalez Espinosa intercepted a poor back-pass, ran on goal and slotted the ball past Ryan MacArthur – his 14th goal of the tournament.

Carlos Gonzalez Espinosa was called into action just before the half time whistle, to keep out Brunos Magpies’ attacker Alexander Dimitriu’s effort on goal – Olympique went into the break leading 1-0.

After getting off to a slow second half, Magpies equalised on the 70th minute and it was their captain Ross Gray getting on the end of a cross to score.

With about 85 minutes gone, Magpies took the lead as Finnlay Wyatt fired in at the second attempt from inside the box. After withstanding the final few minutes, Magpies saw out the game 2-1 and were crowned Champions of the Second Division Cup.

Photo: Joel Orme.

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Assumpcao: “We have to be ready to play anyone”

Brazilian-born attacker Matheus Assumpcao chats about his sides Gibtelecom Rock Cup victory, life at Magpies and much more.

Magpies progressed to the Gibtelecom Rock Cup quarter final last week by beating Boca 5-2. We asked Matheus how he felt the team played, ” It was a very important win on our first test against a Premier Division side this season. We were happy with the result, but, we were not pleased with the amount of chances we missed during the game. Overall it was a good performance from everyone, but, as a team we know that’s not our full potential. We are looking to work hard in the next few weeks to keep improving our game and reach the intensity that Davie wants us to play.”

Magpies and Olympique will be representing the Second Division in the Gibtelecom Rock Cup, we asked if there’s any team he would like to play against – “Honestly, as a team we can’t be choosing opponents at this stage of the competition. We will happily play against any of the teams that are left because if we want to go far in the Gibtelecom Rock Cup, we have to be ready to play anyone. Personally though, I believe that we can surprise anyone and knockout one of the big teams of the Premier and show everyone that we are ready to compete at the top. Maybe test ourselves against Europa FC at some point in the Cup, the First in the Second Division against one of the strongest teams in the Premier Division, why not?”

Assumpcao reflects on his time so far with Magpies, “It’s been really good. I’m thankful for Soccer Smart for connecting me with Magpies. I’m really enjoying myself and excited to see what my future holds in Gibraltar. We have a very good relationship between players, coaching staff, and our directors, what makes everything better. Our fans are also amazing, coming to basically every game and giving us an atmosphere that I don’t think many teams have here. Knowing you have people like that supporting you from the stands makes it easy to have energy to run 90 minutes for them!”

Magpies currently sit top of the Second Division, four points clear and a game in hand – we asked if he fancies his side to go all the win and win, “That’s the goal we set for the season, to win the league and the Second Division Cup. Davie is always pushing us to be better and never let us feel comfortable with the first place, so if we keep listening to him and doing things right, I believe we can go and win the league. Confidence comes from the positive results we are having so far, it’s natural, but if at any moment we think we are already Champions then teams like Manchester 62 and Olympique could come and take it away from us. 

Photo: Neil Wilson

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Gibtelecom Rock Cup Second Round: Predictions

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.