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Gibraltar FA turns down ‘unique’ chance to play Argentina

GFA 1 Vs Latvia 0 25-03-18 (Photos Johnny Bugeja ) Friendly game first International senior Gib match with the approved UEFA Turf Goal by Liam Walker on the 59 minutes.

The Gibraltar Football Association has had to turn down the opportunity to play against Argentina this weekend because it was unable to secure a full national squad of local players.

The last-minute approach, which came via a match agency and not the Argentine Football Association, came after a planned fixture between Argentina and Israel fell through.

The GFA explored the opportunity of putting a team together for the match, which would have been played in Barcelona’s Nou Camp on Saturday.

But the short notice, coupled to the fact that the date was outside the FIFA window during which local teams are obliged to make players available for the national squad, meant it was impossible to put the team together.

In any event, the game would have also had to be cleared by Spanish authorities and there was no certainty it would have gone ahead.

“The GFA confirms that, on Wednesday morning, the opportunity to play Argentina in an international friendly match in Barcelona this Saturday was presented to the association by an international match agency,” GFA General Secretary Dennis Beiso told the Chronicle.

“That opportunity regrettably fell through owing to a number of factors.”

“Given the extremely late notice involved, it subsequently proved impossible to secure the release of a significant number of players, either because of club or personal commitments.”

“In any case, as the friendly offer had come via a match agency, even if the release of all players had been secured the GFA still had no absolute guarantee that the match would have gone ahead.”

“The GFA is, naturally, very disappointed that this unique opportunity for Gibraltar and Gibraltarian football fans has ultimately not materialised.”

The GFA is understood to have contacted numerous clubs requesting the release of players, both Europa FC and Gibraltar United confirming that they had been approached and had not objected to letting their players go.

A spokesperson for Europa FC said they “would have never opposed nor would ever oppose a player playing for the national team.”

Europa's international players include Liam Walker who joined the club this week.

A Gibraltar United spokesperson confirmed that the club had been contacted over the possible release of Erin Barnnet, Kyle Goldwyn and Bosio. The club had agreed to allow the players to play for Gibraltar.

Lincoln Red Imps, whose players formed half the national squad that played against Latvia in March have confirmed that they were approached but explained that their players were on “holiday until Monday”.

Asked if the club would have released its players, a spokesman said the situation was “complicated” given the short notice and the fact the team has a Champions League match in two weeks, with some players also injured.

It has been confirmed that not all clubs were contacted for the release of players eligible to play for the national squad.

A spokesperson for Mons Calpe indicated that they had not received a call for Graeme Torrilla, who he indicated would have been released without question to play for Gibraltar.

The match comes after Argentina cancelled its scheduled match against Israel this weekend which was due to be played in Israel.

The Israeli embassy in Argentina tweeted to confirm that the friendly, which was due to take place in Jerusalem on Saturday, had been “suspended”.

FULL STORY IN TOMORROW’S PRINT AND E-EDITION