The first blog on football in Gibraltar, up since March 2010
Gibraltar Scorpions finished third in their UEFA Futsal Cup preliminary group this week, which was hosted in Sarajevo.
Karl Zarb, who the club had already announced was leaving after this tournament, led Gibraltar’s first ever entry in UEFA’s premier futsal club competition, and performed respectably along the way.
The first match, against eventual group winners Baku United, saw Scorpions lose 10-0 to the English professional champions, who went on to score 26 goals over their three games.
The second match was a much tighter affair against hosts MNK Sarajevo, with the Gib side narrowly losing 10-7 to the Bosnian side. Popo, who ended up being the Scorpions top scorer, grabbed two goals and missed a penalty, with Pato, Cosa, Jesus Sanchez, Bernal and Jesus Samuel also getting on the scoresheet.
As a result of goal difference, Scorpions entered their final match, against Malmo City, knowing a draw would see them finish above the Swedish side in the group. Popo was the star of the show here, scoring all four of the Scorpions goals, but two late Malmo goals ensured that Zarb did not see off his tenure as Scorpions manager with a win.
The relative success of the Scorpions campaign was showed in them finishing above the Swedish champions, and shows the progress that domestic futsal has made in such a short space of time. With the national team in qualifiers next year, and a new manager in Peter Moreno, hopefully the national team will match, or indeed better their last effort, which also saw them finish third in the preliminaries.
With the new Gibraltar football season starting in August this year, to move in line with most of Europa, the fixtures for the opening weekend in both divisions were made public this week.
Reigning champions Lincoln face off against Lynx, who have impressed in their short history as a Premier Division team. Lincoln, who were Gibraltar’s Champions League representatives this season, look the most likely to retain the title once again, although this time it will be under new management, as former Balona manager Raul Procopio replaced the outgoing Mick McElwee.
The team who split Lincoln and Lynx in the league last season, Manchester 62, look to qualify for Europe this season as they kick off their domestic season against Lions. Lions are also under new management, as one time Brighton and Hove Albion manager, and former Gibraltar coach, Jeff Wood is tasked with challenging on both the league and cup front.
Newly promoted FC Britannia, under former College manager Juan Luis Perez Herrera, hope to ensure their stay at the top tier isn’t a temporary one, and they kick off against a St Joseph’s team who will be looking to bounce back from a poor season last year, where they ended up in the relegation play-off.
The other fixture sees Rock Cup runners up College Europa, fresh off their maiden Europa League experience, take on Glacis United. Both teams finished on 19 points last season, and will be looking to better that this term.
In the second division, while Sporting Glacis and Lions Pilots withdrew from the league, they were replaced by four teams, each with a different back story.
Gibraltar United, once one of Gibraltar’s leading teams, disbanded a couple of years ago, but have this season been reformed in a bid to return the club to its former status. They have a challenging opening day game against Gibraltar Phoenix, who are in seemingly more stable times after last season’s disastrous Premier campaign.
Gibraltar Scorpions may be more familiar as a futsal team; their indoor team won the national league and are off to Bosnia to compete in their UEFA Futsal Cup qualifying round. However, their new 11-a-side team go up against Boca Juniors, who will feel they could challenge for a top two spot this season.
Angels FC are a fairly unknown club, with little social media presence apart from a Facebook page, but they start their maiden campaign against last season’s basement boys, Cannons FC.
Europa Point FC are an interesting club to say the least. Formed about 18 months ago, with the intention to compete in Gibraltar, their motto is to give players released by clubs both on the Rock and abroad a ‘second chance’ to prove their abilities. They have come under criticism from some for their high percentage of non-domestic players, but will fancy themselves as a challenger for the title this season. They start their journey in Gibraltar with a match versus Brunos Magpies, looking to build upon a steady first season.
The other fixtures in the first game-week of the second division include runners up Mons Calpe going up against Leo FC, potential promotion contenders Olympique face Red Imps, and Hound Dogs going up against College Pegasus. With only one guaranteed promotion spot to next season’s Premier Division, the second division promises to be an exciting battle once again, and well worth following.
In the last week or so, both Lincoln Red Imps and College Europa have embarked on maiden European campaigns. While both teams exited at the first stage, they can hold their heads high in their home performances especially.
For Lincoln, their first leg against Faroese side HB was at the Victoria, and a packed Victoria Stadium saw the Red Imps earn a 1-1 draw. Joseph Chipolina’s penalty was cancelled out by Levi Hanssen, but it was a good platform for which to travel to Torshavn.
Unfortunately, the first 45 minutes in Torshavn were all but terminal for Lincoln. An abysmal performance saw HB run out 3-0 up going into the break, through goals by Hanssen, Trondur Jensen and Joan Simun Edmundsson, and the game looked over for Lincoln. The introduction of star striker Lee Casciaro at half time seemed to breath life into Lincoln, who came back with goals from George Cabrera and John Paul Duarte, and had chances to level the tie on the night. Unfortunately though they were caught on the counter, and a second Hanssen goal, alongside a good volley from Frodi Benjaminsen saw the Red Imps lose 5-2, and 6-3 on aggregate.
For College, they suffered a baptism of fire in the Europa League. Quick goals by Manuel Sutter and Pascal Schurpf saw the Dolphins 2-0 down after just eight minutes. They managed to steady the ship though, and only one more goal was conceded, as Schurpf got his second in the 72nd minute.
The return leg at the Victoria was a cagier affair, with Vaduz playing comfortably in the knowledge they were all but through. While College rarely threatened to score, they were defensively strong, restricting the chances that the Liechtensteiner outfit had. Lee Coombes sending off changed that though, and sadly for College, Vaduz scored in the 89th minute through Nicolas Hasler.
While the four games in the last eight days or so only saw one draw, both College and Lincoln on the whole put in good displays against more experienced opposition. Gibraltar also got off the mark in terms of coefficient points thanks to Lincoln’s draw, and had College held on, they would have leapfrogged San Marino into 53rd place, earning an extra Europa League spot in the process.
That could happen next year though, with San Marino losing 0.166 of their 0.499 points. A couple of positive results, and Gibraltar can look forward to seeing two teams in the Europa League in coming seasons.
Today’s UEFA Champions League and Europa League qualifying draws saw Lincoln Red Imps and College Europa draw HB Torshavn and FC Vaduz respectively.
Lincoln, who won last season’s league, host Faroese team HB on the 1st/2nd of July, with the return leg being a week later in Torshavn. HB, who won the 2013 Effodeildin by five points, contain four players who were in the squad for the Faroes 4-1 friendly win versus Gibraltar back in March, including Frodi Benjaminsen who captains both club and country. With the Faroese league running through the summer, HB will have the advantage of being fully match fit, as their season is currently 14 games old, with HB currently second in the league.
The reward for the winners of this game is a match against one time European Cup finalists FK Partizan (they lost 2-1 to Real Madrid in the 1966 final).
College Europa, as Gibraltar’s sole entrant in the Europa League after finishing runners up in the Rock Cup, travel to Liechtenstein to face Vaduz, who play in the Swiss league due to Liechtenstein’s lack of a league system. Vaduz will play in the Swiss Super League this season after winning the second division, and have won the Liechtenstein Cup (which provides the country with its sole European representative) 18 times in the last 20 years. The Liechtensteiner’s will be in the closing stages of their pre-season, with the Swiss Super League starting on the 19th July. Recent Gibraltarian representation in Liechtenstein were the national under 16 team, who went there for a UEFA development tournament back in April.
Should College advance past Vaduz, they would face Ruch Chorzow of Poland in the next round. The 14 time Polish champions came 3rd in last seasons Ekstraklasa behind Legia Warsaw and Lech Poznan.
The order of home and away fixtures can be reversed if both teams agree to it, and this will be announced at some point in the next day or so.
The Champions League games are on the 1st/2nd of July and 8th/9th July, with the Europa League games being on the 3rd and 10th of July. Ticket details are scheduled to be announced tomorrow by the GFA.
A 66th minute strike by Kyle Casciaro was enough to give Gibraltar their first ever win as UEFA members, in only their fifth official fixture since becoming the 54th member of European football last May.
Gibraltar, off the back of a 1-1 draw away in Estonia, kept up their form from the Tallinn friendly, and when a poor clearance was headed into the box by Joseph Chipolina, Casciaro was on hand to finish off smartly. The result ensures Allen Bula’s team kept up their more than respectable record in official games, which stands at one win, two draws and two defeats.
The win also ensures Gibraltar have yet to lose any of their three games on grass turf, which is something to consider if and when the new stadium is built. Additionally, the last team to beat Gibraltar outside of the Rock is still the Isle of Wight, in the 2011 Island Games that they hosted.
For now, the national team takes a break from action; their next game at the moment is the qualifier vs Poland in September. However, a friendly could be arranged a few days before that game. There is also the chance that the ‘Gibraltar XI’ summer friendlies may also be scheduled, giving fringe players and youngsters a chance to impress Bula ahead of an exciting era of Gibraltarian football.
A debut goal for Jake Gosling ensured Gibraltar earned their second draw in four official UEFA matches, with a 1-1 draw away at Estonia.
Despite a goal from Augsburg defender, and Estonia captain Ragnar Klavan, Gosling, who is currently unattached, scored with 20 minutes to go to ensure Gibraltar got the draw that, on the balance of play, they can say they deserved. Numerous saves from keeper Jordan Perez, alongside a generally strong team performance, ensured the team left Tallinn with some sort of ‘revenge’ after the 2-0 loss to Magnus Pehrsson’s men back in March at the Victoria Stadium.
The result, Gibraltar’s second positive result after the draw with Slovakia in Faro last year, gives the team a lot to look forward to ahead of the friendly in the Algarve vs Malta on June 4th.
UEFA President Michel Platini will be one of the guests at the 2014 Rock Cup final, between Lincoln and College.
Platini, who is also being accompanied on the trip by Deputy Secretary General Theodore Theodoris, Head of Football Development Jean Francois Domergue, and Head of President’s Office Kevin Lamour, will hand over the trophy to the winner of the final, as well as meet notable footballing figures on the Rock.
Platini’s visit is only a short one, which will involve him flying in and out of Gib on the Saturday, and is customary for a UEFA President to do when a new member is recently, as GFA President Desmond Reoch explained to GBC earlier on.
The interview with Mr Reoch can be viewed here
National manager Allen Bula this morning announced the squads that will be used for Gibraltar’s upcoming friendlies against Estonia (in Tallinn) and Malta (in Faro).
1st caps could be won by a number of players across both squads. In the team for both the games are uncapped players such as Lynx’s Jamie Robba and Tyson Ruiz, Jean-Carlos Garcia and George Cabrera of Lincoln, Manchester 62’s Anthony Bardon and Jake Gosling of English side Gloucester City (on loan from fellow English team Exeter City). For only the Malta game, there are the call ups of uncapped players Erin Barnett of Lions, Manchester 62’s Scott Ballantine, and Louie Barnfather of non-league Evesham, alongside those listed above.
The biggest player not picked in either squad would have to be Lincoln’s Daniel Duarte, with the 34 year old normally a regular in the time. Bula however may be using these two friendlies to try out different players, and knowing Duarte’s abilities very well, he may be giving the Lincoln midfielder a rest for these games. Lee Casciaro is still not fully fit for the national team, but he should be fit well in time of the start of the qualifiers.
The game vs Estonia is on 26th May a the A. Le Coq Arena in Tallinn, whilst on June 4th the team plays Malta in Faro at the Estadio do Algarve.
vs Estonia (20 players chosen):
Goalkeepers: Jordan Perez (Lincoln FC), Jamie Robba (Lynx);
Defenders: Scott Wiseman (Preston North End (England)), Roy Chipolina (Lincoln FC), Ryan Casciaro (Lincoln FC), Jean-Carlos Garcia (Lincoln FC), Joseph Chipolina (Lincoln FC), Jack Sergeant (Manchester 62), Matthew Reoch (Manchester 62), David Artell (Wrexham (Wales));
Midfielders: Liam Walker (Bnei Yehuda (Israel)), Anthony Bardon (Manchester 62), Jeremy Lopez (Manchester 62), Jake Gosling (Exeter City* (England)), Anthony Hernandez (Cadiz CF (Spain)), Tyson Ruiz (Lynx);
Attackers:: Adam Priestley (Farsley AFC (England)), Kyle Casciaro (Lincoln FC), John Paul Duarte (Lincoln FC), George Cabrera (Lincoln FC)
vs Malta (23 players chosen):
Goalkeepers: Jordan Perez (Lincoln FC), Jamie Robba (Lynx), Louie Barnfather (Evesham FC (England));
Defenders: Scott Wiseman (Preston North End (England)), Roy Chipolina (Lincoln FC), Ryan Casciaro (Lincoln FC), Jean-Carlos Garcia (Lincoln FC), Joseph Chipolina (Lincoln FC), Jack Sergeant (Manchester 62), Matt Reoch (Manchester 62), David Artell (Wrexham (Wales)), Erin Barnett (Lions Gibraltar);
Midfielders: Liam Walker (Bnei Yehuda (Israel)), Anthony Bardon (Manchester 62), Jeremy Lopez (Manchester 62), Jake Gosling (Exeter City* (England)), Anthony Hernandez (Cadiz CF (Spain)), Tyson Ruiz (Lynx), Scott Ballantine (Manchester 62);
Attackers: Adam Priestley (Farsley AFC (England)), Kyle Casciaro (Lincoln FC), John Paul Duarte (Lincoln FC), George Cabrera (Lincoln FC)
*Jake Gosling is currently on loan at Gloucester City, from parent club Exeter City.
Gibraltar Under 19’s battled out to a fair 2-2 draw with their Hungarian counterparts in front of a packed main stand at the Victoria Stadium
Goals from Scott Ballantine and Anthony Hernandez saw Gib go 2-0 up, but Hungary fought back through goals from Murai Mark and a 25 yarder from Spandler Csaba ensured that a draw would be the final outcome. Lendzser Bence also saw red for Hungary after receiving two bookings.
The crowd, which was between 1000 and 1500 in number, definitely got value from their £5 admission, and the result shows promising signs for the future of the national team.
Gibraltar will play ‘host’ to Malta in a friendly at the Estadio do Algarve on June 4th this year.
The news, originally reported in Maltese press yesterday as being on June 6th, was confirmed today by the GFA as being on June 4th. The game will be ideal preparation for not only the European qualifiers, but also getting used to the grass pitch used at the Faro based ground Gib will use for the home games in Group D.
Further friendlies could be announced before the game vs Poland in September, with a date just days before the first qualifier being available