By Georgios Tontos
Without a doubt, we are going through the strangest year due to the global situation that has prevailed since last March, with the pandemic that came to change everything, even on the sports map. Gibraltar could not be the exception to this international problem, with the football Premier Division and other sports being significantly affected by the situation.
Teams are now used to playing in an empty stadium, as well as our national football team, who achieved historic success, with no fans at the Victoria Stadium. Unusual scenery for football matches is the empty and cold stadiums, with only the presence of journalists and teams, following the strict new UEFA regulations. Something that definitely affected the performance and also the psychology of the teams, who had to face a new reality. Realistically speaking, this has affected all sports.
Nevertheless, it was a very good year for sports on the Rock, and especially for the national football team, who have brought much happiness after last year’s successes.
The National Team Chapter
Our national team achieved a historic promotion to UEFA’s Nations League C, after two consecutive draws and a victory in the first match against San Marino and Liechtenstein. It is true that Gibraltar came out stronger, from the empty stadium without fans, playing good and effective football, and winning the respect of Europe. With coach Ribas, the team built the foundations for victories, creating a competitive team with experienced players such as Liam Walker, Scott Wiseman, Lee Casciaro, and talented young players such as Olivero and Torilla helping the team significantly. The beginning of the successes with the Uruguayan coach took place much earlier, and more specifically in 2018 with the two consecutive victories against Armenia and Lichtenstein.
Τhis was followed by the third official victory against San Marino with 1-0, to reach a historic qualification of first place in their group in the UEFA Nations League.
Premier Division and Europe Chapter
St. Joseph’s is the best team in the league as evidenced by the league standings; they will likely be the winter champions in Gibraltar. Taking the lead is striker Juanfri, who has scored eight goals in the first seven matches. There is a lot of competition in the league with Europa FC, Lincoln FC, and Lynx claiming the league title equally.
The country’s teams made a great impression in the Europa League qualifiers in September, with Lincoln and Europa reaching the third phase of the campaign for the first time, facing the Rangers and Djurgårdens, unfortunately without netting positive results.
Let’s hope the new year is better on all levels, with even more success.