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Gibraltar v Georgia: Preview

Gibraltar take on Georgia tonight at the Victoria Stadium, as the hosts look to get their first points of the European Qualifiers in front of their own fans.

Photo © C Correa Photography

With the final two group games being against Denmark and Switzerland, today realistically represents Gibraltar’s best chance of getting a positive result, and a year on from recording back-to-back wins in the Nations League, Julio Ribas side will be looking to recreate those historic moments against their opponents.

Georgia, like Gib, can not qualify directly for Euro 2020 via Group D, but they have the fall-back option of a guaranteed play-off spot after winning their Nations League group last year. They beat Gib 3-0 in Tbilisi back in June, and Vladimir Weiss’ side will know that victory tonight will at least ensure they can not finish last in their group.

The visitors arrived yesterday into Gibraltar, albeit with only a squad of 19 after four players withdrew from the squad who faced Ireland in a battling 0-0 draw last weekend – Tornike Oqrishvili, Saba Lobzhanidze and Vako Gvilia are injured, while Guram Kashia leaves the squad in order to get married. For Gibraltar, the only confirmed change to the squad is Bradley Banda replacing Dayle Coleing, who suffered a recurrence of the hamstring injury he suffered vs Switzerland last month, when playing against Kosovo in a friendly international last week.

At the press conference yesterday afternoon, Ribas spoke about how it was “disrespectful” to refer to Georgia as Gibraltar’s weakest opponent in Group D – both because of their recent results, which include draws vs Ireland and Denmark, and because that Gibraltar must respect their opponents in the same way Gib want to be respected by their opponents.

Ribas also noted the possibility of changes to his eleven tonight from the last qualifier in Sion, with the manager saying there was “concern, but not worries” over the recovery of a couple of players from Thursday’s very physical friendly, where a deflected effort saw Gib lose 1-0 in Prishtina. Liam Walker is expected to start though, with the midfielder, Gibraltar’s highest capped player since UEFA admission, rested on Thursday night to ensure he was fully fit for tonight. Both Joseph and Roy Chipolina are also in line to earn their 40th caps for the national team post-UEFA.

Betting:

Georgia are 2/9 favourites to pick up all three points tonight at the Victoria Stadium, with the draw currently 6/1 and a Gibraltar win as high as 18/1. A repeat of June’s 3-0 victory for tonight’s visitors is currently 6/1, while a 1-0 Gibraltar victory is priced at 40/1.

With Gibraltar expected to be stubborn defensively, much like on Thursday night, there could be value in backing Gibraltar +2 on the handicap, which is currently 6/5 best price. Meanwhile, if you fancy the Georgians to win and keep a clean sheet, that is currently a best price of 31/40.

FG’s Predicted XI:

Goldwin; Sergeant, J. Chipolina, R. Chipolina, Olivero; Mouelhi; Walker, Hernandez, Badr, Casciaro; De Barr

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Kosovo v Gibraltar: Preview

Gibraltar take on Kosovo this evening in an international friendly, as they prepare for Tuesday’s qualifier at home to Georgia.

Photo © Naps

The game, between two sides who joined FIFA on the same day in 2016, will be ideal preparation for the upcoming qualifier, and will provide a stern test given Kosovo went nearly two years unbeaten before losing 5-3 away at England in their most recent qualifier back in September.

The hosts have made impressive progress in the short time they have been on the international football scene, and find themselves with a great chance of actually qualifying for Euro 2020 – they are only one point off an automatic qualifying spot in Group A of the qualifiers, and even if they fail to reach that, they have a guaranteed play-off spot due to winning their Nations League group last year.

For Gibraltar, tonight will no doubt be treated as if it was a full qualifier, with Head Coach Julio Ribas going into every game with the same high intensity – as shown in the last friendly match against Estonia back in March. As such, we expect few changes if any to recent starting line-ups, although with six subs able to be used instead of three, some of Ribas’ fringe players will be hoping to get important minutes under their belts ahead of trying to push for a more regular spot in the first eleven.

The squad itself is largely similar to the team who faced Switzerland and Denmark last month, with only three changes – Louie Annesley, who misses with a foot injury, as well as Jared Buhagiar and Jason Pusey are not in the squad, with Lee Casciaro, Ethan Santos and Mohamed Badr in – the latter two, including the Egyptian-born Lynx winger Badr who recently became a Gibraltarian after living here for five years, could make their international debuts tonight, while Badr’s Lynx team-mate Brad Power will also be hoping to earn a maiden cap at some point this evening.

Betting:

Kosovo are 1/12 favourites to win the friendly tonight, with a draw being 13/1 and a Gib win as high as 45/1. Gib will be hoping to attack their opponents tonight and try to get on the scoresheet, and BTTS is currently 11/8 best price. The handicap line is currently set at 3, although if you place your bets smartly you can even get Gibraltar +4 at 4/5 – Gib have only lost two away games in the last two years by 4 or more goals.

FG’s Predicted XI:

Coleing; Sergeant, J. Chipolina, R. Chipolina, Olivero; Mouelhi; Pishu, Hernandez, Walker, Badr; De Barr

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Gib Squad announced for upcoming internationals

Gibraltar manager Julio Ribas has announced his squad for the upcoming friendly against Kosovo, and the qualifier against Georgia later this month.

There are three changes from the squad that faced Denmark and Switzerland – Europa’s Jason Pusey, and Brunos Magpies Jared Buhagiar have been dropped from the squad, replaced by Mons Calpe’s Ethan Santos, and Lynx’s Mohamed Badr – the Egyptian born midfielder recently became a Gibraltarian citizen after spending five years playing and living here. Louie Annesley also misses out from the squad due to injury – Lee Casciaro of Lincoln Red Imps is also in the squad after recovering from injury.

The team are expected to travel to Kosovo this weekend, playing the friendly on Thursday night against a side who scored twice vs England in their last match, before hosting Georgia in their sixth of eight Euro Qualifiers this year.

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Lincoln pair win September Player and Manager of the Month

After a 100% record in September, Lincoln duo Sergio Molina and Victor Afonso are FG’s Player and Manager of the Month for the Gibraltar National League.

Photo (C) Neil Wilson

FG Player of the Month – Sergio Molina (Lincoln Red Imps)
A straight-forward decision this month – after scoring a hat-trick in August, Molina went and scored two more hat-tricks in Lincoln’s two games last month – a hat-trick of hat-tricks is some achievement at any level and if he can keep his goalscoring form going, Lincoln will keep on racking up the big scorelines.

  1. Sergio Molina (Lincoln Red Imps)
  2. Liam Walker (Europa FC)
  3. Antonio ‘Gato’ Ramon Rincon (Lincoln Red Imps)

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

The only manager with a 100% record in the month, Afonso bounced back from the disappointment of an opening-day defeat to ensure Lincoln get back on track and back to the upper echelons of the table, where they will feel they can now push on to regain top spot in the coming weeks.

  1. Victor Afonso (Lincoln Red Imps)
  2. Albert Parody (Lynx)
  3. Raul Procopio (St Joseph’s)
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GIBRALTAR NATIONAL LEAGUE: TEAM OF THE WEEK

Last week’s results:

Europa 2-2 St Joseph’s (Yome, Walker; Juanma, Villar)

  • Europa 2-2 St Joseph’s (Yome, Walker; Juanma, Villar)
  • Lions Gibraltar 1-7 Lincoln Red Imps (Caravaca; J. Chipolina, Molina x3, Ramon Rincon, Hernandez, Casciaro)
  • Lynx FC 2-0 FC Brunos Magpies (Valdivia, Parody)
  • FC Boca Gibraltar 1-1 Mons Calpe (Acosta; Vinet)
  • College 1975 FC 0-3 Manchester 62 FC (Coleing, Luismi, Ruh Dos Santos
  • GOALKEEPER: Bradley Banda (Lynx)
  • DEFENDER: Federico Acosta (FC Boca Gibraltar)
  • DEFENDER: Hrvoje Bukvic (Lynx)
  • DEFENDER: Jaydan Catania (Manchester 62 FC)
  • MIDFIELDER: Yuri Ruh Dos Santos (Manchester 62 FC)
  • MIDFIELDER: Juan Manuel ‘Juanma’ Gonzalez Perez (St Joseph’s)
  • MIDFIELDER: Anthony Hernandez (Lincoln)
  • MIDFIELDER: Jaron Vinet (Mons Calpe SC)
  • ATTACKER: Marko Marcius (Lynx)
  • ATTACKER: Jamie Coombes (Lincoln)
  • ATTACKER: Sergio Molina (Lincoln)
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Power: “We are just focused on putting in another good performance”

Ahead of their match against Brunos Magpies, we caught up with Lynx defender Brad Power to talk about the match, Lynx’s start to the season and more.

Photo (C) Allan Banda

After four games, Lynx find themselves joint-top of the league, with 10 points from their opening four matches – a strong start for Albert Parody’s side: “It has been an excellent start to the season. We have improved in each game as we have continued to play good football, score goals and also concede very few. It’s a positive start and hopefully we can keep this good run of form going.”

The game against Magpies should prove to be a tough test for Lynx, with both sides currently separated by just a single point, so how has preparation for the game gone for Power and his team-mates? “In terms of preparation not too much has changed. Obviously looking at the table it is a big game but for now we are just focused on putting in another good performance which will hopefully result in 3 more points. There has been a high intensity in training with everyone fit and raring to go.”

Lynx have made some solid signings across the last two windows, and now look like a solid top-half team in the league – how does the 26-year-old see the mood within the team? “The additions made in summer have all had a positive impact at training and especially with results on the pitch. Our squad is bigger this year and I feel keeping the main core of the squad from last year has been vital.

Our manager has a problem every week picking 18 players for a matchday squad let alone the first eleven. There is a healthy competition within the squad and confidence is high after out positive start to the season.”

Finally, the defender returned to the international fold and was part of the squad for the recent internationals against Denmark and Switzerland – what was it like being back in the national squad? “On a personal note it was great to be back amongst the national squad. I had to do a lot of work off the pitch due to an injury, it was a long summer but a nice reward at the end of it. Although the results weren’t what we had hoped for I feel there has been significant improvment in terms of performances on the pitch. We matched both teams for long periods in each game and unfortunately some decisions went against us at important times during the game.

That is football at that level and we know that a single mistake can result in a goal due to the quality that the opposition teams possess. Hopefully in the next two upcoming games we can improve on our results.”

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Boro: “We proved to be up to the challenge”

After last night’s dramatic 2-2 draw against Europa, we caught up with St Joseph’s captain Boro to get his thoughts on the game in question, including the last minute penalty given against his side

Photo (C) Vanessa Correa

Saints were 2-0 up going into the 90th minute, and seemed to have the match wrapped up, but after Mikey Yome got a goal back, Europa threw the kitchen sink at Saints – Jamie Robba made a massive save to initially deny an equaliser, before Europa keeper Javi Munoz won a penalty in the dying seconds of the game. We asked Boro his thoughts of the game, and the incident: “Well I think how the game was played, although we had control of the game at all times before a great rival, it is true that being 90th minute winning, but not winning the game – it has a lot of merit and it is normal that in the final minutes a team like Europa presses, no we had to give so much in such a short time.

It is true that I do not understand how at the last minute a penalty can be given in a play that occurs in all corner kicks of all football matches, it is a contact game, but in summary I am happy with the work of the team that proved to be at a great level.

With teams pulling out of the league this season, the schedule is a bit erratic, and both teams from last night’s game now don’t play until October 20th – so how does that extended break affect teams, and how will Saints prepare in that break? “Well, it is important to train hard and try to play friendly matches to keep pace and form, since among the selection stops and I believe that the management and planning of the league has not been the most appropriate .. it is what it is and we have to strive to be our best.

Finally, despite the end result, Saints showed to many that they have every chance of winning the title this season, and Boro also agrees with that: “I think we played a good game and we proved to be up to the challenge of the league, although this is a long road and we will have to work hard to try to be at the top from now until the end of the competition.”

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Ullger: “It was a great way to play vs very competitive opposition”

The inaugural Capurro Cup took place earlier this month, and we caught up with Zoca Bastion co-President Karl Ullger, to find out more about the tournament, and his sides aims for the upcoming futsal season

Photo (C) Zoca Bastion

This was the first edition of what is hoped to be an annual pre-season tournament, but how did it come about? “A lot of organisation went into to it, which started with a simple idea over a coffee between Bavaria President, Jamie Bosio & myself. Since June we begun putting things in place and got Zoca Bastion sponsors, Capurro Insurance on board.

The tournament was about much more than just building fitness ahead of the upcoming season – it also had a considerable charitable aspect to it as well: “The whole concept of the tournament with regards to the charitable aim is to annually share the opportunity locally to raise money & awareness on an alternation carousel. This year we chose Gibraltar Alzheimer’s & Dementia Society & raised £520 for the cause. Next year we would select a different charity & so on.

Pre-season tournaments are few and far between in futsal locally, and the demand for more of them is clear to see: “Well we felt that in Gibraltar we don’t have enough of these pre-season tournaments to allow experimentation of tactics, formations and line ups. Especially mimicking the Uefa Futsal rules.

We can proudly claim that the inaugural Capurro Cup followed a good 95% of how the Futsal league is going to be played etc. For Zoca it was a great way to play vs very competitive opposition and begin to access what does and doesn’t work. We have already had teams wanting and requesting to take part next year which shows the success of the tournament.”

Finally, Zoca were promoted to the 1st Division for the upcoming futsal season, so what are the clubs aims in the league? “The GFA recently confirmed that we would be playing in Gibraltar’s Futsal Premier in the next coming season after finishing 3rd last years Div 2. Last year was a very successful season having sat 1st and 2nd for most parts of the season. After losing 4 key players due to injury we did struggle to maintain those top two spots but still clawed to that 3rd spot. Now in the Premier we have reinforced with 6 very strong signings and managed to keep key first team players.

Our aim primarily is to keep that Premier spot & show we deserve to be there. A cup run would always be welcomed. In the Capurro Cup we had a very good tournament unfortunately getting knocked out on the last second of the semi-final due to a deflected o.g. We feel we are ready for this challenge.

It’s been a real experience watching Zoca Bastion (ex Leo Bastion) grow and now find ourselves competing at the top level of Gibraltar Futsal in our 7th year since the club was found & playing in the then 4th & 3rd Divisions.”

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Gilbert wins Juan Chipol Cup for Lions Black

A first half goal from Joelle Gilbert saw Lions Black win the Juan Chipol Cup against their counterparts Lions Orange.

The game, which was moved from the old sports hall to the Tercentenary Sports Hall, saw the two Lions sides face off after making it to the final, and the game was a tight affair, with the first half goal all that separated the two sides.

Gilbert impressed in the early stages of the game, and she was to be the match-winner early on, after she finished off Nadine Rodriguez’ pass, with Kyrelle Revagliatte unable to stop the shot from going in.

Reviaglatte in truth was a key reason for the scores staying at 1-0, with the Lions Orange keeper making a number of good saves to give her side a chance of getting back into the game. However, in the end, it was Lions Black who held on to win the inaugural trophy this season.

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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.

Betting:

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.