Gibraltar debut in League C this evening
The Gibraltar Senior Men's National Team
takes on Georgia at the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena.
This will be the debut for Gibraltar in the Nations League C after gaining promotion. It will also be the first of four matches they will be required to play within a space of eleven days. Making it one of the most intense international campaigns Gibraltar had faced since entering UEFA and FIFA competitions.
Results this month could determine whether they can survive in League C with challenging group which sees them also play Bulgaria and North Macedonia. The latter of which they play against twice this month.
The match had been over shadowed by domestic league controversy which has seen attention focused on a growing rift within the Gibraltar Football League Association, as a further rift between a handful of clubs and the Gibraltar FA widens into new acrimonious levels.
Speaking ahead of this evenings match Gibraltar national team player Louie Annesley has indicated that there is a positive feel around the Gibraltar camp presently in Georgia. This lifted by the results in March where they kept a clean sheet in their two international friendlies against Grenada and Faroe Islands, the latter also joining Gibraltar in League C this year.
Gibraltar will be looking to go one better than their last clash with Georgia where they were defeated by a narrow 3-2 scoreline.
A tough opposition Gibraltar has faced several times in recent years, facing defeat on each occasion Gibraltar will be looking to try and at least come away with positive result against what will be the lowest ranked team they will face in the competition. Even though Georgia is ranked some 100 positions above Gibraltar in the FIFA rankings. Both Bulgaria and North Macedonia ranked higher.
Gibraltar will start their campaign at a time when a number of league clubs have called for the home grown player rule to be reduced from five players to four. This understood to have seen support for the call to reduce numbers increase this week. This contrasts with what is understood to be the national teams selectors views that the numbers should be further increased to provide a bigger pool of players.
Gibraltar’s head coach for the first time was able to call out a long squad of 38 players to prepare for the Nations League campaign before finally reducing the squad to 26 for today’s match. The rest of the players still on standby for the other three matches.
Previous selectors have struggled to have the numbers available prior to the introduction of the five home grown player rule which has seen more local players fielded.
The increase in home grown player numbers has, however, seen its negative side as home grown players are viewed as the more expensive options with some players using the HPG Rule as a bargaining point for increased salaries. This raising concerns among clubs that the demand from players and their position of strength which sees clubs required to have to play a minimum of five home grown players has reduced their competitive edge yet seen an increase in higher remuneration as players feel overly protected by the rules. Something which clubs have argued is placing a noose around club finances.
A rift, however, exists in which clubs opposing changes to the home grown player rules have highlighted that a reduction would further reduce the pool of home grown players making it even more difficult for teams to find players with the necessary quality to compete. Highlighting that the introduction of the five home grown player rule has increased the number of home grown players available and seen new emerging talents now getting opportunities which would otherwise have been lost. This both benefitting the national league and the domestic league which has seen more locals on the field and of a higher calibre than in previous seasons.
In the meantime a Gibraltar FIFA listed referee team will officiate two ‘A’ listed International Friendlies in Spain this week during the international break.
The matches, which are set to form part of the Saudi Arabia Football Federation's pre-Qatar World Cup training camp, will both be played at the Pinatar Football Center.
In attendance will be
Referee: Jason Barcelo
Assistant Referees: Michael Macias & Daniel Gomez
4th Official: Denis Perez
The two matches officiated by the team from Gibraltar will be:
* - SAUDI ARABIA vs COLOMBIA | 05/06/22 | 19:00
* - SAUDI ARABIA vs VENEZUELA | 09/06/22 | 19:00