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Gibraltar begin Euro Qualifiers against Ireland

Gibraltar kick-start their Euro 2020 Qualifying campaign when they host Republic of Ireland at a sold-out Victoria Stadium this evening.

Photo © William Gracia

The two sides meet for the first time since 2015, when Ireland won 4-0 in Faro. Both teams have new managers and new faces within the team since then, and this evening’s game is the first European Championship qualifier to be hosted on the Rock.

At yesterday’s press conferences, both managers were in good form as they looked forward to the game – for Mick McCarthy it is his second debut as Ireland manager, and he’ll be looking to repeat his first competitive game in his first stint as manager, when Ireland won 5-0 against Liechtenstein back in 1996.

Julio Ribas spoke passionately about the importance of having these games back in Gibraltar, and emphasised the importance of the Gibraltarian fans in supporting their team – both sides will have healthy support with Ireland bring a strong contingent over, which should make for a cracking atmosphere.

The weather will be an interesting factor in today’s game as well – the Irish press who were gathered at the Victoria Stadium yesterday all noticed how windy it was at the ground, and with a severe weather warning issued until Sunday, the game should be played under less than ideal conditions.

Neither manager, as expected, gave much away in terms of team selection – Ribas never tends to show any of his cards to the press – but McCarthy did hint at Seamus Coleman making his 50th cap for the national side from the start, while up front there is the potential for Sean Maguire of Preston leading the line.

Betting:

Unsurprisingly, Ireland are heavy favourites at a best price of 1/18 to win, while Gibraltar are as big as 50/1 to pull off a shock victory – the draw is 20/1 which shows how heavily the bookies fancy Ireland to get off to a victorious start.

There is potentially value to be had elsewhere in the betting though – if Sean Maguire does start then 15/4 for him to score first would be a good price, while for Gib, Joseph Chipolina, top scorer in the Nations League for his side, and expected to be on penalties should Gib get one, is as high as 33/1 to score at any point in the match.

Finally, if you are looking for a correct score bet, a repeat of the 4-0 in Faro is 6/1, while if you fancy Gib to repeat their heroics from the Armenia match, then 1-0 Gibraltar is a whopping 125/1.

FG’s Predicted XI:

Gibraltar: Goldwin; Sergeant, R. Chipolina, J. Chipolina, Olivero; Anthony Hernandez, Bardon, Walker; Casciaro, De Barr, Pons

Republic of Ireland: Randolph; Coleman, Duffy, Egan, Stevens; Arter, Whelan, Hourihane; McClean, Brady; Maguire

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25-man squad picked for upcoming internationals

Gibraltar Head Coach Julio Ribas has announced a 25-man squad for Saturday’s Euro Qualifier vs Republic of Ireland, and Tuesday’s friendly vs Estonia, both at the Victoria Stadium.

Photo © William Gracia

The squad picked is very similar to the one chosen for November’s Nations League matches, although after impressing since joining Lynx, Brad Power is back in the national team – the defender will be hoping, as well as Dayle Coleing and Ethan Jolley, to make their senior debut in either of the two games.

After worries that several key players may have to miss out after picking up fresh injuries, Ribas’ appears to have a reasonably full-strength squad at his disposal – although the likes of George Cabrera and John-Paul Duarte are not in the final squad, it isn’t known if that was due to fitness reasons or personal choice from Ribas.

The squad have been training for a few days now but away from the public eye, with Ribas clearly holding his cards close to his chest as he tends to – while Ireland trained on an artificial pitch yesterday in their home country to try and acclimatise to the surface being used on Saturday.

Gibraltar take on Republic of Ireland at 6pm on Saturday – while tickets have been long sold out, a free fan zone has been created in Casemates for those who wish to watch the game, while the game is on both GBC, and Sky Sports Main Event. Of course, you can also follow our coverage of the game on our Twitter account – @FGScoreCentre.

Gibraltar squad to take on Republic of Ireland (Euro Qualifier) and Estonia (Friendly):

Goalkeepers:

Matt Cafer (Gib Phoenix), Dayle Coleing (Europa), Kyle Goldwin (Gib United)

Defenders:

Louie Annesley (Blackburn Rovers (ENG)), Erin Barnett (Gib United), Ethan Britto (Mons Calpe), Joseph Chipolina (Lincoln Red Imps), Roy Chipolina (Lincoln Red Imps), Jean-Carlos Garcia (Gib Phoenix), Ethan Jolley (Europa), Aymen Mouelhi (Gib United), Jayce Olivero (Abingdon United (ENG)), Brad Power (Lynx), Jack Sergeant (West Didsbury & Chorlton (ENG))

Midfielders:

Anthony Bardon (North Texas SC (USA), Andrew Hernandez (St Joseph’s), Anthony Hernandez (Lincoln Red Imps), Jeremy Lopez (Gib Phoenix), Alain Pons (Lincoln Red Imps), Liam Walker (Europa)

Forwards:

Lee Casciaro (Lincoln Red Imps), Jamie Coombes (West Didsbury & Chorlton (ENG)), Tjay De Barr (Europa), Adam Priestley (Ossett United (ENG)), Reece Styche (Alfreton Town (ENG))

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Tjay De Barr set to join Real Oviedo in the summer

Europa and Gibraltar striker Tjay De Barr has reportedly signed a pre-contract agreement with Spanish Segunda Division side Real Oviedo.

Photo (c) William Gracia

De Barr, who has broken onto the local football scene in some style, has had trials in both Portugal and in Spain with Oviedo’s division rivals Las Palmas, but it is believed the 19-year old has opted to sign for the Asturian team, currently 8th in the Segunda, one point off the playoffs, after they moved quicker than their rivals to secure his signature.

The striker, who scored the opener vs Armenia in the Nations League last year, has caught the eye massively this season and, following the move of Louie Annesley to Blackburn earlier this year, is another boost to local football with more young talent being spotted and presented opportunities at professional sides away from the Rock.

De Barr joined Europa from Lincoln, with Lincoln reportedly set to receive a fee from Oviedo for developing the youngster in his formative years, and this season has scored 13 goals in 22 appearances for his current club – who he will leave after their European qualifiers should they qualify for either tournament. With chances to win the league and cup still available, the striker will no doubt look to leave Europa on a high before joining Real Oviedo.

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Negrette: “If you relax for just one second the game could be over before you know it”

After they were drawn against Mons Calpe in the semi-final of the Gibtelecom Rock Cup, we caught up with Gib United midfielder Michael Negrette about the draw, what he’s learned from their semi-final match last season, and the importance of the cup in helping his side achieve their European ambitions.

Photo © C Correa Photography

The draw sees the sides 4th and 6th in the league face off against each other, a repeat of last season’s semi-final as well – what does Negrette think of the draw? “Well to be honest any of the three opponents was going to be a hard game. Mons are a very strong team as they have proven throughout the season and we will have to be at our best to win the game.”

As mentioned, these two sides faced off in the semis last year, where Mons brushed Gib United aside with an impressive 5-0 win, but what have Gib United learned from that result? “I’ve learnt that with Mons or with any other team, if you relax for just one second the game could be over before you know it. I think the positive from what happened last year is that we know what we are going to be facing so we will have to give 100% and not relax at any point of the game.”

Gib United are 6th, 11 points off 3rd place and a potential European spot through the league, so the cup presents their best opportunity of reaching the Europa League, something the 20-year old notes: “The Cup is our best option but not our only one, even though it seems impossible to reach the 3rd position in the league. It is not and we will keep giving our best in the league. I’d say every game we have from now until the end of the season will be a final, but you are correct in saying that this will be our biggest game of the season, thinking about the objective which is the Europa league spot and as well to end the season winning a trophy.”

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De Barr: “The teams who are in the semi-finals all deserve to be there”

After being drawn against Gib Phoenix in the Rock Cup semi-finals, we caught up with Europa’s striker Tjay De Barr to get his thoughts on the draw, the battle for league and cup, and his chase for the top scorer award.

Photo (C) C Correa Photography

Europa have been draw against Gib Phoenix in the semi-finals, after beating Magpies in the quarter-finals, so we asked De Barr for his thoughts on the draw: “Well I haven’t really been too concerned on the cup draw; the teams who are in the semi-finals all deserve to be there so any team will put up a good game. We just need to take it like any other game, make sure we do our work from our part and I’m sure that we could progress to the final.”

Europa, despite a turbulent season off the pitch, are challenging for the league and cup, but are the club focusing on one trophy over the other? “We aren’t finding it a problem, we like the challenge. With everything that has gone on the past few months at this club I think people need to give us credit for what we’ve done, it’s been hard but it’s made us more of a team for sure and we are happy to be taking part and still having the chance of winning the cup and league.”

The 18-year old scored five goals in the last round vs Magpies and is now joint-top scorer in the cup this season; is De Barr looking for the golden boot? “Obviously I’ve set myself objectives, but the golden boot was never in my list, but it is now. First I’ll work for the team and do the best for them and if I get the goals well that’s great but I’m sure if it’s not me it’s someone else in my team getting them in so I’m not too concerned.”

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Premier Division Player and Manager of the Month – February 2019

After a February where the final destination of the league title became no clearer, FG’s Player of the Month and Manager of the Month awards went to a Lincoln Red Imps duo.

Photo (C) Neil Wilson

Player of the Month – Enrique ‘Kike’ Gomez Bernal (Lincoln Red Imps)

The shortlist for player of the month started at 3 main contenders, but in the end we opted for Lincoln’s new striker Kike. The former Europa attacker, well known to followers of local football, was a big signing for the current league leaders, especially as their title rivals Europa seemed set to get him. Kike repaid Lincoln’s faith with a debut hat-trick against Boca, as well as important goals vs Mons Calpe and Europa – his impact can be highlighted in the fact he is already the clubs third top scorer in all competitions this season, despite only playing five games so far. Abraham Paz of St Joseph’s came a close second for two goals and one clean sheet from defence, while Gib Phoenix’s Labra finished third.

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

Lincoln will admit they haven’t had the most stable season in terms of managers, however in Victor Afonso they appear to have a manager well equipped for the sides title challenge this season. Defeat in the cup will have disappointed him, but Afonso hasn’t allowed it to derail the league campaign – an emphatic win against Boca and an important three points against a difficult Mons Calpe side sandwiched a draw vs Europa where in truth Lincoln were extremely unfortunate not to claim all three points. Paco Luna of Gib United finishes runner up this month, while after a much improved 2019, Albert Parody of Lynx finished third in the award for February.

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Serra: “I’m focusing on my recovery to get back for St Joseph’s”

While he recovers from injury, St Joseph’s defender Jamie Serra took the time to speak to FG about his development at Saints, the recent injury he has suffered and more.

Photo © Rough and Ready

Serra joined St Joseph’s three years ago, so we asked the defender about his experiences so far at the club: “When I first joined St Joseph’s FC in 2016 I knew it was going to be another step in my career, as I went from playing youth level to senior level. I found it hard at the beginning but slowly I started adapting. Now every year you notice how the level is always increasing in the league. The experience of going to Europa League is really good, when we played against Torshavn we were really unlucky to lose on penalties but the equaliser from Jose Luis Otero was amazing. “

The Gib U21 defender picked up his injury in a match against Boca back in December, after a run of six consecutive starts for the team currently third in the Premier Division  – how is the recovery process going? “The recovery has been going really well. I have been seeing the physio at least 3 times a week so I can have the best recovery possible to get back as soon as possible, I’ve also been sent to Cadiz with one of the top physios known in Cadiz. I played a couple of games and I was getting into a good rythm but unfortunately this injury stopped me and I’ve been out for at least 6 weeks already, and I have another 3/4 weeks to go.”

Serra has seven caps at Under 21 level for Gibraltar and was part of the side who took part in the recent qualifiers – the defender speaks positively of the experience: “The u21 campaign went well. I gained a lot of experience from being the first time playing at this level. From the start until the end of the tournament we learned a lot and corrected our mistakes. The match against Austria at home we were a goal down in the first half but then in the second half you could see that their fitness levels are much higher than ours – that’s when the team suffers. The match against Macedonia, our historic win was amazing, unfortunately I was sent off and injured the game before against Armenia.”

Finally, being 20 and playing in the Premier Division will keep Serra firmly in contention for national selection in the coming years – the defender is more focused on his recovery for now: “I’m hoping to be called up for the national side team but right now I’m focusing on my recovery to get back for St Joseph’s FC and get back on the pitch stronger than before. I think the team are capable of winning the league.”

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Gibtelecom Rock Cup Second Round: Review

The Second Round of the Gibtelecom Rock Cup saw Europa beat Lincoln in the tie of the round, two Second Division sides progressed to the Quarter Finals, but the gap between some of the teams in Gibraltar’s two divisions was emphasised even further with three games seeing double-digit scorelines.

Photo © William Gracia

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