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Gibraltar Euro 2016 qualifier Squad Announcement

Gibraltar national coach, Allen Bula announced his squad for the upcoming Euro 2016 qualifier against Poland. Mr Bula seemed confident coming into his first press conference for the European Qualifiers, touching upon the match vs Poland. He seemed unfazed by the gathering journalists and the GBC camera crew and answered the questions accordingly.

Full squad can be located here Squad List

Mr Bula highlighted that he had named a 21 man squad, but has yet to decide on who his final 2 members of his squad would be. He stated that he had in mind three players, however he gave no indication as to who they were. He also commented that he would have until next week to decide on the final selections.

Roy Chipolina has once again been selected as the national team’s captain.

Mr Bula confirmed that the team would not be ‘parking the bus’ against Poland. Not giving much away on how he would approach the game, he did however mention that he was very happy with the last two matches played and would implement this kind of style against Poland, keeping in mind that the opposition this time round is of a higher calibre than the last two opponents. He did ambitiously state that a realistic result for his side would be a draw.

Casting an eye upon the players selected, Kaaron Macedo was a surprise call up as he had been overlooked for some time despite his consistent performances for St Joseph’s. Mr Bula did say however that UEFA regulations state that there needs to be a minimum of 3 goal keepers per squad. Asked about selecting Macedo, Mr Bula stated that he considered Macedo to be of the same calibre as Perez and Robba and quoted

“he is a very good goalkeeper”.

Nearly a year on after his agonising knee injury in the opening league game of last season, Lincoln striker, Lee Casciaro has been called up into the squad for the first time since the Slovakia game. No doubt this will be welcome news for Lee after a long rehab session, he has now earned a call up after impressing in Lincoln’s Champions League debut in July. This also means that the 3 Casciaro siblings could be on the field in a UEFA recognised game, a feat which is probably a first in the International scene.

Mr Bula was asked about his preference on choosing a lone striker from the five he could pick from, whether it would be wise to give George Cabrera an opportunity as he was last years joint league top goal scorer. Mr Bula’s reply was that he had been the goal scorer in the Gibraltarian league but had been very impressed with Kyle Casciaro’s performances of late at an international level and therefore gave us an inclination of his preference being Kyle Casciaro starting up front alone.

Asked about the absence of Anthony Bardon on the squad list after impressing last time around, and whether he was one of the three players he had in mind, Mr Bula replied that he was not going to say who these players were as it would be unfair to them.

Looking at the squad list, it is apparent that there is a lack of central midfield cover and the likes of Anthony Bardon, Aaron Payas and Liam Clarke all of whom have previously played for Gibraltar’s national team could be in the mix to be called up.

Another point raised was the fitness levels of his squad. He clearly stated that this was a slight concern as the fitness of his players is controlled by their respective clubs. And receiving the players to train on such short notice makes an national team managers task even more difficult, especially when it comes to assessing the fitness levels of his players. However he did hope that those fitness levels were maintained at a high standard and did continue by stating that he has noticed a big change in his players regarding their professionalism as footballers on a whole. Stating that although most of his players were amateur footballers they seemed very professional on and off the field, highlighting that the main difference between his players and those which they will now play against is their ‘fat wallets’. and professional footballers life style.

With little less than a month to go for what arguably will be Gibraltar’s biggest game, all eyes will be set on the final squad announcements and all going well no players should suffer injuries in the opening days of the new season.

For more on the squad selection, see our interview with Allen Bula which will be posted later today.

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Gibraltar Premier League Managerial Merry-go-rounds

The preseason is well under way for the Premier League clubs in Gibraltar. With Lincoln and College’s European campaigns over after 1 round, all 8 clubs are now focused on the new league season which is now approximately 5 weeks away.

This season will mark the start of the new football calendar in Gibraltar. With the season starting in August, clubs have had to step up their preseason plans earlier than expected. The league requires the earlier start to be in line with similar UEFA nations and the European Qualifiers for 2016.

Other aspects of the local game that have changed during the closed season are the managers of some of the elite clubs in Gibraltar. Whilst Lincoln, Manchester 62, Lynx, Glacis Utd and St Joseph’s remaining with the same head coaches, College Europa, Lions Gibraltar and newly promoted Britannia have all appointed new coaches for the 2014/15 season.

After the surprise dismissal of coach Juan Luis Perez Herrera from the College dugout, the Dolphins appointed Jose Requena as their boss. Requena, a former goalkeeper at Spanish clubs Real Betis, Elche, Los Barrios and Balonpedica Linense, was assistant coach last season and has been promoted to head coach for the upcoming campaign. College have continued to scour the Spanish market for players bringing in a number of players from Spain which will no doubt increase the flair of the side going forward. A question will although be raised on the chances of the local based players breaking into the 1st team. Requena favours a more intense approach to his training methods and his players seem to have benefitted from this from their spirited displays against FC Vaduz in the Europa League.

College Europa boss Jose Requena on the touchline during their Europa League qualifier v FC Vaduz

College Europa boss Jose Requena on the touchline during their Europa League qualifier v FC Vaduz

Requena’s predecessor at College, Juan Luis Perez Herrera has taken over at FC Britannia. New boys to the Premier League, Britannia have surprised the local football community with this appointment. A real statement of intent from the club to appoint a manager who has plenty of pedigree locally, after guiding College to the Rock Cup final and hence the Europa League. Britannia announced the arrival of their new boss on twitter:

Juan Luis Perez Herrera spoke to GFT upon his appointment as manager:

I feel extremely thankful for the interest shown by FC Britannia since the 1st day we sat down for talks. I am very excited to start the new season and delighted to once again to be involved in football in Gibraltar.

 

Britannia captain James Watson with new coach Juan Luis Perez Herrera

Britannia captain James Watson with new coach Juan Luis Perez Herrera

Britannia will have their work cut our for this season after the 2nd year under UEFA means clubs are more determined to reach their objectives to qualify for Europe. Herrera however has more modest targets:

Our objectives for the season begin with humility. We are the new comers to the league so we don’t set ourselves targets with respect to league position. We will play every game and the effort we put into those games will determine our position at the end of the season. The squad is very excited, between those players that have been longer at the club who have strived to see the team in Premier, to the new crop of players brought in during the summer who are just as excited to play in the top flight. They all have the same idea – with effort comes results. I am delighted with the effort and work rate the players are demonstrating in training.

James Watson, one of the men involved in the deal to bring in Herrera, also spoke to GFT regarding their new man.

The moment we got promoted, we knew we had to convert the club to a premier standard. Alongside everything else, having ‘Juanlu’ appointed as manager shows the progress made and direction the club is going. Very much looking forward to our partnership this season.

With Britannia already announcing the signing of some promising youngsters, the future looks bright for the new boys in Premier.

Lions Gibraltar have been doing the work quietly during the preseason. After a promising start last time round, their season began to unravel and just managed to avoid the relegation playoff by drawing against College in the penultimate league game. The club announced the change to the management team via twitter:

Although not officially announced by the club, Lions Gibraltar F.C. are believed to have appointed Jeff Wood as club technical director and head coach of the first team after the departure of previous head coach Steve Cummings.

Potential new head coach of Lions Gibraltar, Jeff Wood

Potential new head coach of Lions Gibraltar, Jeff Wood

Wood is an experienced coach who has been involved in professional football as player and manager working with junior and senior professionals for over 30 years. His playing career combined over 500 professional 1st team appearances. He is familiar with Gibraltar football having worked and coached with national teams both at youth and senior level.

Most recently he was appointed as the goalkeeping coach for the Wales U19 and Wales U21 national teams as well as Conference Premier side Luton Town.

An exciting appointment by Lions should it become confirmed. A club with a strong youth setup, Wood would be the perfect man to continue the clubs progression and develop their talented youngsters.

An interesting time for clubs in Gibraltar, and with 5 weeks to go, there could may well be more interesting stories in the pipelines.

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Europa League Preview

23rd June 2014 was another Historic landmark in Gibraltar football as for the 1st time, a local club was entered for the draw for the UEFA Europa League. All eyes were on College Europa to see who they will face in their inaugural European campaign. For obvious reasons, they were unseeded.

College v Vaduz

College Europa v FC Vaduz.

College Europa discovered their opponents yesterday for their first ever UEFA Europa League qualifier. Their opponents will be FC Vaduz from Lichtenstein.

College will play travel away to play the 1st leg on the 3rd of July whilst the 2nd leg will played at the Victoria Stadium on the 10th July. The winners of the tie will face Polish side Ruch Chorzow.

GFT was able to get reaction from the College camp after the draw was made. Manager Jose Requena (former goalkeeper for Betis) was in a defiant mood:

We face a complicated team that plays in the Swiss league which was a budget of approx. €10m. We will go over there and try to make things difficult for them and see if we can bring a good result back to Gibraltar

Team captain Robert Montovio also gave his reaction to the draw:

I’m very excited to have the chance to play in the Europa League. Not in my wildest dreams would I have ever imagined this was going to happen. I do not know much about FC Vaduz but we will give it our all to try and win and make Gibraltar proud.

Last season’s top scorer, Argentinian Striker Cristian Toncheff also reacted to the draw:

I am very happy that the draw has helped College Europa continue to make history and with it take us to Liechtenstein to face a great club.

Young central midfielder Jamie Bosio also gave his reaction to the draw:

They have plenty of European qualifying experience. We can find out as much as we can about them because they’ve been involved on the European football scene since 1992 but it will be difficult for them to find anything on us here in Gibraltar, and that might benefit us. Any of the 5 teams that we could have been drawn with was always going to be difficult in our first European campaign, but we will keep doing as we have been for the last 3 weeks and keep working hard. We will attempt to give a good account of ourselves abroad not just for us but more importantly for the whole of Gibraltar

FC Vaduz play their domestic league football in Switzerland and finished 1st in the Swiss Challenge League (Swizz 2nd level) earning promotion to the top tier of Swiss football for the 2014/15 season. Their European qualification has come via the Liechtenstein cup as winners. There is no domestic league football in Liechtenstein.

But what else do we know about the team from Liechtenstein. Here is all the info you need:

Formed: 1932

History:

Vaduz have been required to pay a fee to the Swiss Football Association in order to participate as a foreign club. There have been calls for this agreement to be revoked, but discussions have meant that a permanent arrangement has now taken place for a Liechtenstein representative to be allowed to participate in the Challenge League or Super League in future.

From the 2001–02 season, Vaduz played in the Swiss Challenge League (formerly called Nationalliga B), the second tier of the Swiss league system. Since then, Vaduz have been one of the best teams in the Challenge League and gave serious challenges towards promotion to the Super League, especially in 2004 and 2005, playing two-leg play-offs in both cases. In the 2007–08 season, Vaduz secured promotion to the Swiss Super League on 12 May 2008 by winning the Challenge League on the final day of the season, giving Liechtenstein a representative at the highest level of Swiss football for the first time. Vaduz, however, were relegated back to the Challenge League after one season in the top flight. Vaduz finally returned to top level after 5 years in Challange League last season.

Location:

Vaduz

Stadium: Rheinpark Stadion (7,838 capacity)

Liecht

FC Vaduz’s Rheinpark Stadion set between the beautiful Alps

Manager: Giorgio Contini (SWI)

Number of League titles: 3 (Swiss 2nd Division)

Number of Cups: 42

Player stats in 2014:

Vaduz squad

National Team Players:

Liechtenstein squad

 

 

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Champions League Preview

Lincoln v HB

23rd June 2014 was another Historic landmark in Gibraltar football as for the 1st time, a local club was entered for the draw for the UEFA Champions League. All eyes were on Lincoln Red Imps  to see who they will face in their inaugural European campaign. For obvious reasons, they were unseeded.

Lincoln v HB Torshavn.

Lincoln Red Imps today discovered their opponents for their first ever UEFA Champions League qualifier. Their opponents will be HB Torshavn from the Faroe Islands. Some of the Faroese players will be known to Lincoln’s Gibraltar national team players as they faced each other in a UEFA friendly in Gibraltar back in March 2014.

Lincoln will play their home leg 1st on the 2nd of July whilst the 2nd leg will be held in the Faroe islands on the 9th July. Lincoln have the unenviable task of travelling approximately 3,000 km to play their 2nd leg in what will surely be very cold conditions up in the Norwegian sea. The winners of the tie will face Serbian League runners up Partizan Belgrade. (Red Star Belgrade, the champions of the 2013–14 Serbian SuperLiga, would have qualified for the Champions League second qualifying round, but were banned by UEFA for breaching UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations)

The Lincoln players will however be phased with the unenviable task of traveling nearly 3,000 km in order to face their opponents in what will probably be very cold conditions up in the Norwegian sea.

GFT was able to get reaction from the Lincoln camp after the draw was made. Manager Mick McElwee was obviously delighted with the draw:

We are tremendously excited about the draw. We have now more information which makes the expectation and the anticipation even greater. We are looking forward to our first match which will be the home match against HB Torshavn so we’re just getting prepared for that. We have spoken to the representatives of HB Torshavn here at the UEFA ceremony, we are happy that they are fully cooperating with us and that we’ve got all the information we need to make our trip to Torshavn a successful one as well.

Gibraltar national team captain Roy Chipolina also gave his reaction to the draw:

Any team we drew was going to be tough, but I’m sure we will rise to the challenge. The team has been working very hard in training for what is the biggest game of our football careers.

Lincoln captain Daniel Duarte also reacted to the draw:

Firstly, very happy to be part of this draw and to be the first Gibraltar team to participate in the Champions League. We knew that all 3 teams that we could face were going to be equally difficult opponents. Being the first time we participate we are always going to be the underdogs. Not very happy in terms of the draw because of the difficulty in getting to the Faroe Islands which means that many of our fans won’t be able to make it. But still, we hope that the heat in Gibraltar in July, playing in our stadium and having all of our fans present will give us a good advantage in the first leg.

HB are currently 2nd in the 2014 league season in the Faroe Islands and are 5pts behind local rivals B36 Tórshavn at the half way stage of the season. Interestingly, both clubs home colours’ are black and red. Like Lincoln, HB Tórshavn are the most prestigious club in the Faroe Islands in terms of titles.

But what else do we know about the Faroese Champions. Here is all the info you need:

Formed: 1904

Location:

Torshavn

Stadium: Gundadalur Stadium (5,000 capacity)

IMG_5711

HB Torshavn’s  Gundadalur Stadium

Manager: Heðin Askham (FAR)

Number of League titles: 22

Number of Cups: 26

Player stats in 2014:

Torshavn Squad Stats

National Team Players:

Torshavn Players

Benjaminsen, Vatnsdal, Harldsen and Gestsson all featured against Gibraltar in March 2014.

Team Statistics in 2014:

Torshavn Stats

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College Europa sack Perez Herrera

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College Europa Boss sacked after 3 months in charge

College Europa have parted company with their head coach, Juan Luis Perez Herrera. Having recently guided the ‘Dolphins’ to the Europa League thanks to their Rock Cup final appearance against Lincoln, it could have been assumed that his job was safe.

Perez Herrera took over in March 2014 after the departure of Manuel Sanchez Nuñez from the College dugout. When Perez Herrera took over, College had amassed 12 points from their opening 7 games of the league campaign, only 4 points behind then leaders Lynx FC at the half way stage. The decision to sack Sanchez Nuñez appeared questionable at the time solely based on results.

However, Perez Herrera’s record in the league was worse than his predecessor as he was only able to achieve 7 points from their 7 games in 2014 leading to a 4th place finish ahead of Glacis United only by virtue of a slightly better head to head record.

Whilst College were solid and harder to break down under Sanchez Nuñez, under Perez Herrera, the players seemed to be set free from their shackles and they were allowed to express themselves more on the pitch. This reflected on their goal tally under both managers:untitled

NB: Sanchez Nuñez’s last game in charge was a 9-1 win over 2nd Division side Boca Juniors

Perez Herrera’s main objective was to qualify for one of next season’s European competitions. As Lincoln raced away to claim their 12th consecutive league title and thus confirming their place in next season’s Champions League, the final remaining European qualifying spot would go to the winner’s of the Rock Cup. It was in the Rock Cup where Perez Herrera’s men flourished. In his first game as manager, he handled the pressure of European qualification and beat Glacis United 4-2 in the quarter finals.

College Europa then battled against Manchester 62 in the semi final. They defeated the odds with 10 men and an injured Joseph Chipol to beat the Red Devils 4-2 on penalties to reach the final. College went on to lose the final 1-0 against Lincoln thanks to a Liam Clarke injury time winner. What ensued was a conflict in the GFA board room as to who had actually qualified for the Europa League, the runner up in the cup or the runner up in the league. The verdict was delivered 4 days later in favour of College Europa.

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Perez Herrera meets UEFA President Michel Platini ahead of the 2014 Rock Cup Final v Lincoln

Perez Herrera had already started making plans for the forthcoming Europa League campaign in July after being entrusted with control over 1st team matters early last week. However, an emergency meeting of the College Europa board a few days later resulted in the decision to sack the manager.

Speaking to GibFootballTalk, Juan Luis Perez Herrera said he had

not yet received a reason as to his dismissal and was still awaiting an official response from the club on this regard.
 

College managers this season have been very keen on seeing all aspects of the club flourish especially their youth teams, and Perez Herrera was very proud of the success achieved by the club’s youngsters this season. He went on to add

I feel the decision taken by the board is an injustice. I have worked very hard these past few months to achieve the goals that were demanded from me. I have also had no problems with anyone at the club, a club which has a real family atmosphere.
 

Perez Herrera posted this on his Facebook account yesterday afternoon:

untitled

Translation: I communicate my disconnection from College Europa after I renewed this past Monday 19th May and working towards next season. This same morning [Friday] I was told that I was no longer the manager without explanation (Clear it cannot be results based as I qualified the team for Europe.) I want to give thanks to the person that had faith in me (and was correct), to those who have battled for me to remain despite the difficult circumstances and to the players because without them I would have not achieved this life time dream. Best of luck to College Europa in their next chapter except whenever we come face to face…you never know.

Earlier in the week, senior club officials announced that they had parted company with College Europa. Posting in one of College Europa’s social media outlets, Jonathan Da Costa commented

Due to great differences with College Europa FC board of directors as from now me Jonathan Da Costa, Malcolm Martin and Kevin Payas will resign from our current position in College Europa FC. We will no longer belong to this club which we formed and we will no longer take any decisions dealing with this club. We think things have not been dealt with clearly with us and work has been done without consulting us in very important football matters.
 

Only days after this was posted the 3 reversed their decision and were back with the club. Two days later, the announcement of the sacking of Perez Herrera was making rounds in social media.

College Europa FC have yet to make any official statement regarding the departure of Perez Herrera which can only fuel further speculation as to what has happened behind the scenes. It is rumoured that the club are looking for a high profile appointment for the manager’s role.

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Another pot of gold on the cards for Gibraltar’s European Qualifiers?

After the Gibraltar Football Association confirmed the U-turn on the decision to allow College Europa into the Europa League next season at the expense of Manchester 62, a decision at the higher echelons of European football could see Gibraltar’s European representatives benefit financially from the recent Financial Fair Play (FFP) investigations.

Recently it was revealed by UEFA that clubs in breach of FFP rules will be fined and dealt with other sanctions. It was recently revealed that high profile clubs such as Manchester City and Paris Saint Germain have been fined by European Football’s governing body for breaches of FFP. Furthermore, the money raised from penalising clubs who were found to be in breach, would be split between other teams as solidarity payments

It appears that UEFA president Michel Platini and general secretary Gianni Infantino plan talks with the chairman of the European Club Association, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, to discuss precisely how to redistribute the fines levied from the FFP sanctions announced last week.

Platini and Infantino want what is a pot worth up to £114.5m to be shared not only among all 237 clubs competing in Europe this season and next but also teams in domestic leagues affected by their rivals’ overspending.

If the money is distributed evenly, the most any team could hope to receive is approximately £380,000, although it may be as little as £138,000 if those guilty of FFP breaches avoid paying their whole fine by fulfilling certain obligations. However, for Gibraltar clubs, seeing as they weren’t involved in European competitions this season could possibly mean that their ‘solidarity’ payments would be significantly lower than other European counterparts.

UEFA is hoping the prospect of such solidarity payments will reduce the threat of clubs appealing the settlements agreed with those who broke the rules.

The other clubs, who accepted lesser sanctions, were Galatasaray, Trabzonspor and Bursaspor from Turkey, the Russian sides Zenit St Petersburg, Anzhi Makhachkala and Rubin Kazan, and Levski Sofia from Bulgaria.

As for the club’s in Gibraltar, Lincoln Red Imps and College Europa who will both feature for the first time in European club competitions for the 2014/15 season, could be set to pocket an extra amount of funding from UEFA thanks to the transgressions of those clubs higher up in the football food chain. At the same time, Manchester 62, who were recently told by the GFA that they would be compensated due to the decision to deny them Europa league football next year, could also benefit from this situation.

All in all, it appears that these clubs might be benefiting from FFP, which also leads to the notion of an uneven playing field for local clubs in the GFA Premier Division next season.

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