Gibraltar v Denmark: Preview

Gibraltar play host to Denmark in tonight’s Euro 2020 Qualifying match, looking to build upon their three matches so far in this campaign.

Photo © William Gracia

After over five months since the last home game, competitive senior international football returns to the Victoria Stadium tonight, which will be sold out – including an estimated 750 travelling Danish fans who will be hoping their side pick up their second win of the qualifiers, after drawing two of their first three matches so far.

Both teams spoke to the press yesterday ahead of the match – the visitors showing a noticeable confidence in their chances for the match, while Gibraltar Head Coach Julio Ribas noted that his team are “in the middle of a special project”.

Denmark have seen the late withdrawal of keeper Frederik Rønnow due to injury, with Daniel Iversen, on loan at Rotherham from Leicester, called in his place. However, it is a Leicester teammate of Iversen’s who is expected to start between the sticks – Kasper Schmeichel will be making his 48th appearance at national level and comes in off the back of a strong start of the season at club level, with the Foxes third in the Premier League after four games.

There is undoubted talent everywhere else in the pitch for the Danes as well, with the likes of Andreas Christensen, Christian Eriksen and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg familiar names to those who follow the English Premier League. Up front, Yussuf Poulsen has been part of a RB Leipzig attack who have helped their team to the top of the Bundesliga with a 100% record – all in all, Gib will expect to be incredibly busy tonight as always.

For the hosts, there are no known injury concerns, with Ribas as tight-lipped as ever in trying to not give anything away. We don’t expect too many changes to the team who have played the most recent qualifiers, although injury to Lee Casciaro, and the retirement of Anthony Bardon, means we will see a couple of ‘new’ faces in the outfield. There is also the question of who starts in goal – Dayle Coleing and Matt Cafer will both be vying for Kyle ‘Chino’ Goldwin’s number 1 spot, and Coleing in particular has a good argument in his favour after impressive performances domestically and in Europa League qualifiers over the last few months.

Up front, Tjay De Barr will most likely lead the line alone, a thankless task in all honesty – while behind him Liam Walker, his former Europa teammate, will be hoping to continue the fine form the attacking midfielder has shown so far this season, in what is set to be Walker’s 40th cap at international level since UEFA membership. Alongside Coleing, there could be two other debutants potentially tonight, in Jared Buhagiar and Brad Power.


It will be no surprise to anyone that Denmark are odds-on favourites tonight – the best price you can get on the visitors is 1/40, while Gib are as high as 150/1 to get all three points – the draw is 28/1 with either of those two results being a first for Gib in European Qualifiers should it happen.

The aforementioned Poulsen is 4/5 to score in 90 minutes tonight and could represent good value, with the 6 foot 4 inch striker bound to be a threat in the air – Louie Annesley, who is the same height as Poulsen, will have to keep a tight mark on him especially at set pieces.

For the hosts, there is definitely value in backing some of the usual suspects to grab a goal, including Tjay De Barr (19/1), Liam Walker (20/1) and Joseph Chipolina (40/1). If you think both teams will score, but don’t know who will get the goals, then BTTS Yes at 7/2 could be the way to go.


Peacock: “I am convinced that this move can only better myself with the experience and game time I’ll receive”

After securing a move to Algeciras CF’s Juvenil A team, FG caught up with Dylan Peacock, to ask him more about the move to the Spanish side.

The 17-year old, who was on the books at Lincoln, has made the move to the Segunda B side, starting in their main youth team as he looks to develop as a footballer – so how did the move come about: “It came about 2 years ago when I received more than a couple phone calls during the season to go that way to play for them and at the beginning of this season I thought about it well and spoke to a couple of family members and experienced football friends and said to myself why not, why not take the chance in going over there and getting game time and experience.”

Peacock made 10 appearances for Lincoln last season, scoring twice against Boca in May –  does the striker have a message for his former club?: “Firstly I want to thank everyone at Lincoln Red Imps – the manager, the technical team, directors and players for everything they did to make this all possible. I have been part of the senior squad for some time now, training on a daily basis with such talented players helped me learn a lot and also helped me make my way into being part of the 18-man squad for the majority of the 18/19 season. I am extremely thankful to Lincoln for allowing myself and other young talents to prove ourselves at the big stage.”

Algeciras’ Juvenil A side play in the Liga Nacional Grupo 14, and the striker will get to test himself against the youth sides of some of the top Spanish teams from the Andalucia region: “Hopefully I will be getting regular playing time which will obviously help me develop as player and unique experience which is what I require at this age to progress to become a better player. I will be playing in a tough league with teams such as Coria CF, Cordoba CF, Sevilla FC, Real Betis, Xerez D.F.C, Sporting de Ceuta and many others which will sure bring me lots of experience.”

The 17-year old made his U21 National team debut back in March, as a sub in the 1-0 loss to Cyprus – so we asked how this move will aide his progress within the national setup: “I am convinced that this move can only better myself with the experience and game time I’ll receive. Having said that I believe it could help myself as well as my national team when playing in the competitions as I will have gained more experience and I will be a more physical and stronger player.”


Leo FC withdraw from the National League

Leo FC have become the latest side to withdraw from the Gibraltar National League, after a rumoured potential investment from a former UKIP politician, who owns English side Kings Lynn Town, was confirmed to have been rejected by the Integrity Unit of the GFA, who were not satisfied “that the Club’s acquisition was in the best interests of Gibraltarian football as a whole.”

Photo © William Gracia

The club, who were rumoured to be in talks to be bought out by Stephen Cleeve, who currently owns the English non-league side Kings Lynn Town, have chosen, it is believed voluntarily, to withdraw after the deal was blocked by the GFA.

It now means that the Gibraltar National League is down to 13 teams, less than 24 hours after the season started – Leo being the third team this week to withdraw. The team, who finished 6th in the Second Division last season, have been in existence under a few names since 2004. The club had signed a number of players this summer, but had reportedly seen some of these players leave days or weeks later, which officials at Leo apparently believed due to financial and not playing reasons on the part of the players.

In a statement, the Gibraltar FA comment that: “The Gibraltar Football Association (GFA) regrets to inform football fans that a third club, Leo FC, has today opted to withdraw from the Gibraltar National League.

The Club have informed the GFA that the decision to withdraw has been taken as a result of the GFA’s rejection of a potential takeover of the Club by an investor based outside Gibraltar.

The GFA confirms that its Integrity Unit has indeed recently rejected a potential takeover by a new investor. As with all such cases, the GFA carries out a series of integrity checks on the potential owner, including checks with the support of UEFA. Those checks have failed to give the GFA the necessary satisfaction that the Club’s acquisition was in the best interests of Gibraltarian football as a whole. The proposed acquisition was therefore rejected.

Leo FC’s decision to subsequently withdraw from the Gibraltar National League means that there are now thirteen Clubs in the league. Matches this week, with the obvious exception of the match involving Leo FC scheduled for Saturday, will continue as normal.


Phoenix and Gib United withdraw from National League

The 2019/20 Gibraltar National League will start with just 14 teams, after the Gibraltar Football Association confirm that Gibraltar United and Gibraltar Phoenix will no longer participate in senior football.

Photo © William Gracia

The news comes hours before the league gets underway and is a massive blow to the perceived stability of local football, especially given both sides were considered contenders for the top eight this season. Phoenix and Gib United become the 15th and 16th teams to withdraw from the 11-a-side game since 2009 (four years before UEFA membership came in to place), not including reserve teams who were no longer permitted to play in the senior system.

In a statement, the Gibraltar FA comment: “The Gibraltar Football Association (GFA) is disappointed to announce that two Clubs have withdrawn from competing in the Gibraltar National League.

The two clubs are Gibraltar Phoenix FC and Gibraltar United FC.

The Domestic Licences awarded to both Clubs are rescinded with immediate effect. Consequently, as per GFA Regulations, neither Club will be able to re-apply for membership of the GFA for a minimum period of five years.

Discussions with both Clubs have taken place to minimize, as much as possible, the impact on youth teams registered with either Club. In this respect, the GFA wishes to place on record its gratitude to Mr. Brian Brosco (Gibraltar Phoenix FC) and Mr. Adrian Ballestero (Gibraltar United FC) both of whom have shown tremendous honesty and integrity in their dealings with the Association, and who have consistently worked in the best interests of the young footballers at their respective Clubs.”

As a result of this, the league will split into two groups of seven, instead of eight as planned, after the first round of fixtures. A revised fixture list for the first two gameweeks can be found here.

The news also has a knock-on effect on the Gibtelecom Rock Cup as only 15 teams will enter the cup. As such, the new format sees Europa, as cup winners, given a bye to the Second Round, while the other 13 National League teams, as well as FC Hound Dogs, will start in the First Round.


2019 Pepe Reyes Cup: Match Preview

League champions Lincoln Red Imps take on Gibtelecom Rock Cup winners Europa FC in the 2019 Pepe Reyes Cup tonight.

Photo © William Gracia

The traditional curtain-raiser once again sees Gibraltar’s top two sides face off for the fifth season in a row, and is the first of two meetings in the space of less than a week – the two sides face off in the first week of the National League.

The game is also the first match under the increased HGP regulations, so each side will have a minimum of four locals on the pitch at all times. With Jaylan Hankins and Tjay De Barr moving to Spanish sides in the summer, both teams will have slightly different sides to the end of last season, and with new signings on both sides, tonight promises to be an intriguing encounter.

For Lincoln, Chino or Lolo Soler will be one of the big questions, as to who starts in goal – if Soler starts, then either Ethan Britto or Jamie Coombes will be expected to start, alongside Joseph, Roy Chipolina and Anthony Hernandez, presuming all are fit to play.

As for Europa, their biggest call will be who start at left-back – most likely a straight decision between Ethan Jolley and Jayce Olivero – elsewhere, Dayle Coleing is expected to start in goal, while Liam Walker will captain the side. One potentially interesting sub-plot is whether Jack Sergeant starts – it isn’t clear if the former Lincoln man has finalised his moved to Europa yet, with apparent complications allegedly hampering the deal. If he isn’t cleared to play, Jason Pusey or Mikey Yome may come in to the first XI, with the former making his debut if he does so.

The last two editions of this tournament have been settled on penalties, and we wouldn’t bank against today’s game going the distance as well – as we get the first glimpses of the season ahead.


Gibraltar Phoenix withdraw from the National League

The Gibraltar National League has been reduced to 15 teams after Gibraltar Phoenix confirmed they were no longer intending to enter the league this season.

Photo © Rough and Ready

Phoenix, who came 5th in the Premier Division last season, are not believed to have been under any great financial pressure, but with their owners looking to sell up, and no prospective buyers coming forward, the club have chosen to withdraw from the league.

Unlike other clubs believed to be in severe financial difficulty, Phoenix are believed to have ensured all their players had their last month’s wages paid, to ensure that players weren’t left out of pocket – however for a number of players, they will have little time to find a new club before the season starts.

Phoenix had signed a number of players in the summer, including Tito De Torres, Alan Parker and German Cortes, which other locals such as Jayce Consigliero, Lee Coombes and Jeremy Lopez were set to continue at the club after playing for them last season. Today’s news ends another chapter, and seemingly closes the book for now at least, in what has been a very up and down few seasons for the club.

In 2013, the club were promoted to the Premier Division, alongside what was then College Europa (now Europa FC). However, while College Europa won the Rock Cup and finished fourth, Phoenix ended the 14 game season bottom, having failed to pick up a single point, scoring only nine times, and most notably conceding 32 goals in two games against Lincoln in a week. The club had seen an exodus of players to other clubs in the division, and were struggling at times to even get 11 players on the pitch.

The club then had to rebuild on and off the pitch, and after narrowly missing out on the play-offs in 2015-16, Phoenix did a league and Chestertons Cup double in 2016-17, signalling their return to the top flight. The club fared much better in the Premier Division in the two seasons there, finishing sixth in 17-18 and fifth in 18-19, reaching the semi-finals of the Rock Cup last season as well.

Today’s news means that from the first two weeks of fixtures that had been announced, games against Leo on Saturday 17th and Gibraltar United on Friday 30th August will now be cancelled.


De Barr bids farewell to Gibraltar football

Earlier this week Tjay De Barr posted a farewell message on his social media accounts as he set out on his travels to link up with his new club Real Oviedo.

In March of this year, we announced that 19-year old Tjay De Barr would be joining Real Oviedo at the end of the season. His club at the time, Europa FC, wrote a statement shortly after stating that an agreement had been met and the Gibraltar international would be leaving the club and joining Oviedo after the Europa League campaign.

Tjay recorded a total of 2342 minutes played across all competitions in his debut season, considerably more than his 2017/18 season with Lincoln which saw him play only 392 minutes. Putting the ball in the back of the net came easy for him aswell, scoring 21 goals in 29 games – another improvement from his 1 goal in 16, the season before.

Europa beat Sant Julia 6-3 on aggregate in the preliminary round of the Europa League, with Tjay scoring in the second leg of the tie but were eliminated in the first round by Legia Warszawa.

De Barr wrote this message on his social media accounts: “A great season comes to an end, it’s been a special year where a lot has happened and I’m grateful to everyone who I’ve come across this passed year. A new chapter which will be filled with new experiences, not just football but in life. A big thank you to those who have been part of my journey so far. Thank you to Europa FC for treating me so well in the time I’ve spent with the club. To managers & teammates who I’ve shared changing rooms with a big thank you to all. There’s too many people to thank but I’d like to give a special thanks to my family who have and will always be there for me and continue to show it day in day out. Going to miss every single one of you. To the boys, will miss you all my brothers and hope to see you all very soon. The dream continues.”

His former club Europa would follow it up by saying: “All the best to Tjay De Barr . One of our best and brightest leaves the club today. We can’t thank you enough for your service last season, the door is always open. Our loss is Real Oviedo’s gain. You will achieve your goals we are sure of that. Believe!”

Everyone at FG wishes Tjay De Barr the best of luck at Real Oviedo.


Hankins: “If it wasn’t for Lincoln, I wouldn’t be where I am today”

After securing a move to Las Palmas earlier this month, FG caught up with Jaylan Hankins, as the keeper discusses the move, his gratefulness to his former club Lincoln, and potential aspirations at national level.

Photo © Tinta Amarilla

Hankins move to the Spanish side is a big moment for the teenager, and even he didn’t expect the interest when it first came in: “My first thought was this is a joke I honestly could not believe that such a big club in Europe was interested in me, so I did not really put a lot of interest in it and carried on training how I was doing. When I saw that it was actually serious, and things were progressing, I was just excited and ready for the challenge that was awaiting here in Las Palmas.”

The keeper spent much of his life at Lincoln, featuring a number of times in the first time and catching the eye. We asked the 18-year old how grateful he is for the club who developed him: “I’ve been in Lincoln since the age of 5 and I’ve been the happiest person on earth the past 14 years at the club. Obviously there are ups and down but that’s part of football, but everyone in the club know that I will always support them no matter where I am, because if it was not for them I wouldn’t be where I am today”

The move abroad could help the keeper break through at national level, especially if he performs in the various teams at Las Palmas, who all play at a decent level in Spain. Hankins is very level-headed about it though: “At the moment I am focused on Las Palmas – if the opportunity were to come I would be really honoured and I will try my best to get there. if it’s now or in the next couple of years I do not know, that’s not up to me I’m just focused on getting better”


Europa draw against Legia Warsaw, while Saints eventually fall to Rangers

Europa earned a very credible 0-0 draw against Legia Warsaw tonight, while earlier in the week, St Joseph’s fought valiantly but eventually fell to defeat against Rangers.

Photo © Europa FC/C Correa Photography

Both teams went into the week with home games against the bigger European sides, with Saints first up on Tuesday against the Scottish giants. A decent crowd, aided by 900+ Rangers fans, saw the Gers run out comfortable 4-0 winners, although it took until the second half for Saints resistance to be broken down.

Two quickfire second half goals from Ryan Jack, and Liverpool loanee Sheyi Ojo put the game to bed essentially, and Steven Gerrard’s side added gloss to their victory with efforts just going over the line from Borna Barisic, and Alfredo Morelos. Saints now know that realistically their European journey will be over next week, after a visit to Ibrox.

Meanwhile, tonight saw Europa go toe-to-toe with an established European side in Legia Warsaw, 13-time champions of Poland and a familiar name to those who watch European football. In an impressive performance, which saw Europa have an almost level share of possession, and more efforts, the two sides ultimately could not be separated, and Europa go to Warsaw knowing they haven’t conceded an away goal, and have every chance of an historic progression to the next round.

Rafael Escobar started with a couple of changes from the team who beat Sant Julia 4-0 last week, including the return of Alex Quillo from suspension, while Ethan Jolley came in as one of four Gibraltarian’s starting the game. And it was Jolley who was arguably man of the match, as he put in a full-blooded performance for 90 minutes, getting stuck in with the more physically imposing Polish side. Now Jayce Olivero has joined, competition at left-back is fierce at Europa, but Jolley put in a performance that deserves him keeping that spot next week.

Both teams had the ball in the net, but the offside flag denied both teams – however both teams also had a big chance go wide in a second half which saw both teams throw caution to the wind at the end. With a good crowd in attendance, and an estimated 40,000 people watching the official stream of the game, many eyes were on Europa, and they impressed with their play, especially in midfield.

The result additionally gives Gibraltar a further coefficient boost, helping to further solidify their position of holding four European spots in future seasons – should Europa qualify next week, they face either KuPS of Finland, or Belarussian side Vitebsk – the Finns coming out 2-0 victors today.