The best, we hope, is yet to come with the final stages of the knockout phase not yet played at time of going to print – but before that, a look back at some of last month’s local action on (and away from) the rock.
The women’s football season drew to a close with Lions Ladies taking top prize after Lynx forfeited the final game of the season with the league result already having been decided. The Lionesses add the 2020-21 league title to their collection – their second league win – and a number of players will be hoping that recent performances will have bolstered their chances of a call-up to the national side.
And, on the national stage, no sooner had domestic seasons around Europe ended than the football world’s attention turned to internationals and the forthcoming Euros. Before that however, a round of friendlies saw Gibraltar’s squad first travel to Slovenia, with a somewhat unfamiliar line up facing off against a solid looking Slovenia side.
The home team took the lead early on when Sporting’s Andraž Šporar slotted the ball past Coleing after ten minutes, but Gibraltar were gifted an opportunity to respond just minutes later when Slovenia’s keeper inexplicably lashed out at Torrilla and conceded a penalty.
The scene seemed to be set for Kenneth Chipolina to follow in the footsteps of older brother, Joseph – who has a match winning penalty to his name on the international stage – but it was not to be. Struck low and central, a trailing leg was enough for keeper Belec to keep the ball out.
Gibraltar fans will have felt aggrieved that Belec was still on the field, having clearly struck Torrilla in the face with his hand when conceding the penalty, but to no avail. The rest of the game will be best forgotten by local fans – five further goals from Slovenia and a 6-0 final score reflected the home side’s dominance.
It was across to Andorra for their next match a few days later and Julio Ribas’s men will have wanted to focus their efforts on not conceding after the shaky defensive display in Slovenia. They did manage to close out the opposition this time round and kept the clean sheet, but it was another fruitless affair up front with no goals for Gibraltar, in what turned out to be a somewhat tepid performance.
Tjay De Barr found himself with too much to do up front and struggled with a lack of service and a resolute defensive line in front of him.
Manager Ribas would’ve been quick to point out that several key players were unavailable to him, and as he often states, this is a squad undergoing what will likely be a lengthy transition period. The gap between the promising youngsters and the veterans in the twilight of their careers still needs to be bridged.
Speaking of veterans, the evergreen Roy Chipolina earned his 50th cap for Gibraltar against Andorra. He follows Liam Walker as the second player to reach this milestone in the UEFA era, although both Walker and the 38-year-old Chipolina do have many more appearances for Gibraltar under their belt from pre-2013.
That wrapped up the 11-aside action for the national side, who are next in action in September for their World Cup qualifiers.