Big day of sports as Eurohockey and Europa League matches coincide on the Rock
Gibraltar sports faces another major evening of action with both the Eurohockey and Europa League matches being played within the same space of time. The scheduling of both matches, which is the product of their respective international Organisations decision-making will once again provide local authorities a security headache with large number of spectators expected for both events.
The matches, will however, generate additional promotion for Gibraltar on a global scale with both matches expected to be live-streamed to large international audiences following the progress of teams. The matches adding to Gibraltar’s international image after successfully hosting this summer’s Island Games in which similar scenes with football and basketball matches coinciding in times.
Gibraltar face a crucial match in their bid for promotion from the Eurohockey Championship III men’s division. This evening they play Lithuania, a side that faced a heavy defeat at the hands of Switzerland on Sunday. With Lithuania having lost 11-1, and Gibraltar inflicting a 5-1 defeat upon Turkey, Gibraltar could guarantee themselves a place as one of the two top ranked teams in their group if they were to win this evening.
Talk of a big win were yesterday shunned by players who watched the evening matches from the stands as they assess their potential opponents. ‘We won’t be thinking of how many goals we are going to score, we just have to think about securing a win,’ commented one of the Gibraltar players as he watched yesterday’s Pool B matches.
Lithuania are expected to try and prove that their 11-1 defeat at the hands of Switzerland was a once off, with local hockey observers expected Gibraltar’s opponents to tightened at the back and make It difficult for Gibraltar to find a pathway to goal.
The match which starts at 6pm coincides with Lincoln Red Imps’s crucial Europa League second leg match against Ararat FC from Armenia.
Lincoln Red Imps, who trained last night at the Victoria Stadium require to overcome a 2-0 deficit from the first leg. With the tie seen as a difficult prospect for the Gibraltar league champions to proceed into the next stage, Lincoln Red Imps fans were already looking at the prospects for next season. Lincoln will have to score two goals to take the match to extra time, without conceding, or look for three goals without conceding. An away goal by Ararat could prove a major obstacle for the local side who would have to ensure they win outright on aggregate in the 90 minutes.
Security around the stadium is expected to be tight throughout the evening as the authorities will be looking at maintaining both football and hockey fans separated.
With the Gibraltar match expected to see a high turn out once again, Sunday’s match seeing three quarters of the stands full, it is expected that the stadium will see some 3,000 spectators or more attending between both events. This is expected to see similar security as that implemented during the Europa League matches for St Joseph and Europa which coincided with basketball Island Games tournament matches which also saw a large turn out to watch Gibraltar play.
Prior to Gibraltar’s match against Lithuania the stadium’s main hockey pitch will also host the Eurohockey match between Switzerland and Turkey. The result of this match could determine Gibraltar’s prospects with a win for Switzerland keeping them in the top two positions of the table. A win for Turkey would leave the latter with a chance to push for one of the top two places in their final match against Lithuania. Gibraltar face Switzerland, the group favorites in their final group match. A victory against Lithuania this evening could be enough to secure a play in the semi-finals on August 2, also to be played in Gibraltar, with the final on August 3.
Gibraltar fans will be hoping to celebrate a double victory this evening which could see Lincoln Red Imps reaching the next stage of the Europa League for the first time and Gibraltar securing a place in the semi-finals in hockey and getting closer to achieving their aims of promotion to the second tier in hockey.