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Gibraltar on course to benefit from Europa Conference League next season

The UEFA Europa Conference League starts for the first time next season, and Gibraltar are currently on course to get an extra European spot as a result of the new tournament.

Photo © Black and Burst

The tournament, announced by UEFA in 2018, has had little to no fanfare around it, but as we get closer to its inaugural season, it is becoming clearer how allocation to the tournament works, and how Gibraltar looks set to benefit, for at least one season.

The team allocation for the 21/22 edition uses the 2020 UEFA Country Coefficients, which takes into account performances from the 15/16 to 19/20 seasons. As it stands, teams ranked from 16th to 50th (excluding Liechtenstein who do not run a league) are granted three spots in the tournament, alongside their usual one Champions League spot – Gibraltar ended the 2020 Coefficient rankings in 49th, and as such seem set to benefit for at least one season by having four teams in European competition.

It was originally expected Gib would have four teams for this season’s qualifiers, which ended for the local teams yesterday, but with UEFA taking the 3rd Europa League spot from the 51st place team, which was Gib, and giving it to the 55th place nation, who only used to have two teams in Europe, that advantage was denied – Lynx were the team who would have theoretically taken the 3rd Europa League spot this summer had UEFA not changed the allocations.

This benefit is at the moment only guaranteed for one season, as Gibraltar are not currently guaranteed to finish in the top 50 spots at the end of this seasons rankings. Gib currently find themselves in 48th, but three nations below them currently have teams still in Europe (Faroe Islands, Montenegro and Estonia). Should the teams from those three nations go on good runs, then Gib may drop to 51st and only have one season of four teams in Europe – however the chances are in Gib’s favour as it would require all 3 nations jumping above them, and they currently enjoy a 1.291 point lead over Estonia, and a 0.791 lead over Montenegro.

As a result, with the 1.5 points per win divided by the four teams they enter in Europe, this would require Montenegrin side Buducnost Podgorica and Estonian side Flora to both qualify for the Europa League Group Stages.

While the confirmed start of the league is not officially known, the news that 4th place could get a European spot (depending on the Rock Cup winner), puts another twist into what could be a highly competitive season this time out.

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Europa unfortunate in Djurgarden defeat

Europa were knocked out of Europe tonight after a narrow 2-1 away loss to Djurgarden of Sweden, with a saved penalty, a red card and the woodwork coming back to hurt the visitors.

Photo (C) C Correa Photography

Europa were not well fancied in the betting going into the game, but proved to be a match for the Swedish champions, and Rafael Escobar’s side had a great chance to go ahead from the spot just before half time – however Liam Walker’s penalty was saved well, and Djurgarden went up the other end to score through Curtis Edwards.

The setback did not deter the visitors though, and they got their reward in the 57th minute. A defensive mix up at the back by Djurgarden left Adrian Gallardo with an empty net to finish into and get his side back into it. Europa were to fall down to 10 men soon after though with Alex Quillo picking up two bookings in four minutes.

Europa kept on fighting, but would go behind to a penalty from former Burnley midfielder Fredrik Ulvestad. The woodwork would then go on to deny Europa a second equaliser, and later chances for Walker, Gallardo, and 18-year-old Gibraltarian Mitch Gibson, a surprise inclusion onto the field of play near the end, could not be converted as Europa lost in the narrowest of circumstances.

The final statistics, of 9 shots each team told the story of a tight match, which on another day, Europa may have been able to win – they will likely take confidence from the performance though going into the domestic season.

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Djurgardens v Europa: Match Preview

The second part of today’s Europa League double-header involving local sides sees Europa in Sweden, as they take on Djurgardens at the Tele2 Arena in Stockholm.

Photo © C Correa Photography

Europa, who moved into the Europa League after defeat to Red Star Belgrade, take on the Swedish champions, who lost at the same stage to Hungarian champions Ferencvaros, in what should be another tough encounter for Rafael Escobar’s side, who haven’t had the luck of the draw so to speak with the teams they have drawn out – the winner of this has to play CFR Cluj in the next round.

Europa’s most recent visit to Sweden saw them lose 1-0 to AIK back in 2016, and they will be hoping that this time out may be more joyful – they won’t be aided by the fact the hosts, who have two Head Coaches in Kim Bergstrand and Thomas Lagerlof, are 19 games into the Allsvenskan season, which started in June – they sit fifth in the league though which for last season’s champions is not ideal.

Before the game, Bergstrand spoke about the ball-skill and good organisation of Europa, noting they only went behind to Red Star initially due to an offside goal. He also noted that while his team should be able to hurt Europa, they also have to respect them. Liam Walker, Europa’s captain, spoke to FG yesterday ahead of the game, which you can read here.

Squad News:

Europa’s squad has been bolstered by the return of Ethan Jolley, as well as the arrival of new signing Kwadwo Poku – the pair would be expected to start at the Tele2 Arena this evening. They will be without Ibrahim Ayew and Blas Alvarez though, who have not travelled with the team to Stockholm.

For the hosts, they are confirmed to be without Erik Berg, Jesper Nyholm, Emmanuel Banda, Nicklas Bärkroth and Alexander Abrahamsson, according to their official website. One player that may catch the eye is English midfielder Curtis Edwards, who played both legs for fellow Swedish side Ostersund against Arsenal in their historic Europa League run of 2017/18. The Swedish side also have midfielder Kevin Walker – the Swedish/Irish 31-year-old won the 2013 Swedish Pop Idol, singing alongside Robbie Williams in the final.

Betting:

The hosts understandably go into this game as massive favourites, with 1/20 the best price you can get on them winning in 90 minutes. Europa are 45/1 to cause a big shock, while the draw in 90 minutes is 14/1. The handicap line is set at 3, with Europa 13/10 on +3. Meanwhile, if you do fancy Djurgardens to win but Europa to score, that is currently 11/4.

FG’s Predicted XI’s:

Djurgardens – Bratvelt; Witry, Une Larsson, Kack, Augustinsson; Ulvestad, Karlstrom; Eriksson, Edwards, Ring; Chilufya

Europa – Munoz;Jolley, Olmo, Carrascal, Olivero; Walker, Rosa, Badr, Becerra; Juampe, Gallardo

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Lincoln v Rangers: Match Preview

Lincoln take on Rangers this afternoon in the first of two Europa League Second Qualifying Round matches involving Gibraltarian sides today.

Photo © Neil Wilson/Lincoln

Lincoln, who earned this tie by beating Union Titus Petange 2-0 in the last round, come up against a Rangers side going very well in the Scottish Premiership; Steven Gerrard’s side have won six of their seven games so far, without conceding a single goal, and are currently top of the league.

Lincoln, who famously beat Celtic at the Victoria Stadium in 2016, will be hoping to complete an ‘Old Firm Double’ by beating Rangers, and at the press conference yesterday, Lee Casciaro, who scored the winner that night, spoke about his sides chances and noted that unlike against then Brendan Rodgers side, this is a one-legged tie which adds a different dimension to the match.

Meanwhile, Gerrard, whose Rangers side of course played here last year against St Joseph’s, stated that he didn’t believe the artificial surface would pose any problem to his side – some teams in Scotland such as Hamilton, Kilmarnock and Livingston have used them in the Scottish top flight.

Squad News:

Lincoln are believed to have no new injury concerns ahead of the game, with Joseph Chipolina remaining out from his injury last year. Therefore, it will be expected that they pick a similar team to that which beat Union Titus Petange, and were set to face Prishtina in the round before that. Tjay De Barr has joined the team, but didn’t feature for the national side against San Marino, therefore is still short on match fitness since his injury in November, and may have to settle for a spot on the bench.

For Rangers, the good news is that striker Alfredo Morelos is available, despite suffering a knock on the weekend against Dundee United. Meanwhile, former Liverpool winger Ryan Kent is expected to be involved and will be a key threat, having scored four in seven so far this term. They will be missing a few players though, including Ryan Jack and Joe Aribo – the pair scored across both legs of the tie vs Saints last summer.

Betting:

It will come as no surprise to anyone that Rangers, who reached the Last 16 of this tournament last season, are big favourites to win today – the best you can get on them winning is 1/12, while Lincoln are as big as 60/1 in places to recreate the shock win vs Celtic against the other member of the Old Firm.

Ryan Kent, who is in good goalscoring form, is 6/5 to notch a goal today, while for Lincoln, Lee Casciaro is 10/1. Graeme Torrilla, who scored the winner for Gib vs San Marino, is 40/1 to repeat his goalscoring touch for his club side anytime.

FG’s Predicted Lineups:

Lincoln XI – Soler; Wiseman, Lopes, R. Chipolina, Sergeant, Britto; Hernandez, Torrilla, Yahaya, L. Casciaro; Kike

Rangers XI – McLaughlin; Tavernier, Goldson, Helander, Arfield; Davis, Kamara; Kent, Hagi, Roofe, Morelos

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Gibraltar Government issue press release after Lincoln game cancelled again

The Gibraltar Government have this evening issued a press release, noting the statement made by FC Prishtina after the cancellation of their game vs Lincoln today.

Photo (C) Rough & Ready

Prishtina, after the game had been called off, stated on their social media profiles that “By the decision of the local authorities of Gibraltar, the match will eventually not take place.” The following, below, is the press release from the Gibraltar Government:

HM Government of Gibraltar notes the statement from FC Prishtina
The internationally accepted rules on isolation for those who have tested positive for COVID-19, and those who have been in close contact with them, are clear. In the circumstances, the Gibraltar authorities informed UEFA that our rules, in keeping with those same internationally-accepted rules, required that the team should be in self-isolation. For that reason, UEFA held that the match could not go ahead in an official decision.
It would not have been responsible, or in keeping with the internationally-accepted rules on isolation for those who have tested positive (or those who have been in close contact with them), for the Gibraltar authorities to have permitted those members of the FC Prishtina team who have not tested positive to be in contact with others today. Safety is paramount.
All matters relating to the match are the responsibility of UEFA.
Arrangements are now being made to allow the FC Prishtina to return home as soon as possible given thattheir welfare is also of concern. Gibraltar authorities have kept communication channels open with all parties throughout the course of the afternoon.
As was the case on Tuesday the Contact Tracing Bureau and Civil Contingences are now collating information to determine the extent of local contact in relation to contact tracing.

The Gibraltar Government statement can also be found on their site.

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Coleing move to Glentoran set to be confirmed this week

Europa and Gibraltar keeper Dayle Coleing will this week be signing for Northern Irish side Glentoran, for a transfer fee believed to be £50,000.

Photo © Naps

The 23-year-old, who joined Europa in 2018, firmly established himself as his club’s number 1 last season, while also making his international debut last September against Denmark, and the keeper now makes the move to the Northern Irish Premier Division, to join Glentoran on what is believed to be a 3-year contract.

Coleing will be signing in time for Glentoran’s Europa League campaign, where they were drawn against Faroese side HB Torshavn – the then 17-year-old Coleing was on the bench for former team Lincoln for both legs against the same opposition back in 2014.

Europa are believed to have moved quickly and have already lined up a replacement for the goalkeeper, in time for their Champions League campaign where they face a tough away tie against former European Champions Red Star Belgrade next week.

Coleing joins Colin Ramirez in the list of Gibraltarians to have played for the Glens, as they are nicknamed, and also joins a growing list of young Gibraltarians now plying their trade outside of the Rock.

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Coleing attracting interest from outside of Gibraltar

Europa and Gibraltar goalkeeper Dayle Coleing is believed to be attracting interest from teams in Northern Ireland, Spain’s Segunda B Division and potentially elsewhere outside of Gibraltar.

Photo © C Correa Photography

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Lincoln sign Gibraltar international Scott Wiseman

Lincoln Red Imps have this afternoon announced the signing of Salford City and Gibraltar defender Scott Wiseman on a two-year deal.

Photo (C) Rough and Ready

Wiseman, who has played his whole career in England, joins Lincoln on a two-year deal after leaving Salford on a free transfer after the termination of the English League Two season.

The 34-year-old, who can play at right-back or centre-back, has 10 caps for Gibraltar, but hasn’t featured since a 6-0 defeat to Belgium back in 2016 – however, Wiseman, talking to the official Lincoln website, said: “Earlier this year I would have been playing for the national side again”, presumably referring to the cancelled March international friendlies against Malta and Liechtenstein. His return would give another option, and one with vast experience, to Julio Ribas side ahead of the upcoming Nations League.

Wiseman, on Lincoln’s official site, continued by saying: “I’m absolutely delighted to finally get things signed. After having countless conversations with the club about coming over, it was an easy decision for myself and my family to make.” With nearly 500 appearances in English football, from the National League to the Championship, the defender will add a lot of experience to the Lincoln team for the upcoming season.

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Camilleri: ” We shall carry on believing in our structure of developing players”

FG caught up with Manchester 62 President John Charles Camilleri to discuss his clubs season, the fact they gave more minutes to Gibraltarian’s than any other club last season, and his hopes for the club next season.

Photo (C) Black and Burst

Manchester finished the terminated season in 9th position, ending up with 19 points from 18 games – how does Camilleri feel the side did overall? “We started the season with hopes of having a team that the current club’s philosophy could follow and relate to. I believe the early changes in Head Coach was not seen helpful to the squad but the addition of David Wilson gave the team stability and structure for the remainder of the season.

Our players have tried their best every single game, they had their good days and bad days as we all have. Overall, the club is proud of what we achieved last season in regards to our HGP and it’s something we would like to follow on this season but football has many twists and turns.

As mentioned, Manchester gave by far the most minutes to Home Grown Players (HGP’s) this season – amassing a total of 11,853 minutes, some 3,740 minutes more than their nearest challengers in the HGP table, Glacis United – that commitment to locals is something the Manchester President is very proud of clearly: “Well we are extremely proud of these players, to have them put their trust in our structure and philosophy is the most rewarding factor. They deserve all the merit on the tough season we had. We as a club provide all the tools possible for them to perform at the highest level, we are extremely proud of the team bonding they have built during the course of the season (our football family).

This club being a very keen supporter and developer of local youth football our aim is to feed our players through on a yearly basis. What’s the point of the club youth coaches (volunteers) pouring hundreds of hours yearly in youth football and then not providing a platform for them to play when they reach the age of 17-23!

As with all clubs, Manchester have had to adapt to the current global situation, which led to the early termination of the 2019/20 Gibraltar National League – so how have Manchester adapted? “Well the sudden stop in football has meant that from our under 5’s through to our Seniors they have been missing out on their weekly get togethers. For us (club) the ‘family’ had been separated and not seeing them on a weekly basis was very hard, it’s not all about money or personal gains… it has been more about missing seeing each other, fighting together to overcome dificult games together and being pushed to your maximum during training which has been most hard to overcome. We had players logging on to online sessions and trying to achieve all of the above via social media stream together. (Both in Seniors and Youth)

Finally, we asked Camilleri what his hopes for Manchester 62 were next season: “My hopes for the team next year are the same as my hopes for Manchester 62 Fc and Gibraltar Football in general. We will continue to try and play a style of football which is attractive and aggressive to the best of our possibilities. We shall carry on believing in our structure of developing players for the future for our club and our national teams.

For myself as club president the top priority for Manchester 62 Fc are the following.

Be Sustainable
• Be Competitive
• Develop as much youth players as possible
• Build a even bigger ‘Football Family’
• Keep improving our Youth Academy.

The last thing we want to do is disappear like others clubs have due to financial meltdowns. It is the currents Club committees main aim to keep the 58 years of this clubs history in local football as strong as always, So our aim is sustainability sustainability and sustainability.