Gibraltar faces the team whom they beat in the race for promotion to the Nations League C
The Victoria Stadium erupted in 2018 as Joseph Chipolina nodded in the winning goal against Liechtenstein.
Salanović had open the scoring for the visitors after fifteen minutes but Gibraltar responded with a goal from Cabrera to level before Chipolina’s header paved the way to victory.
However, the result did not provide promotion into League C. Instead Gibraltar had to wait. Although there was celebrations for the win against Liechtenstien in 2018, there was nobody there to watch Gibraltar’s most significant result against Liechtenstien. A draw which saw them gain promotion to UEFA’s Nations League C.
The 2020 draw against Liechtenstien at the Victoria Stadium was played behind closed doors at the Victoria Stadium under UEFA’s Return to Play rules.The draw put Gibraltar at the top of its group and represented a historic result for a team that joined UEFA just seven years prior to this and had been described as “the worst team in the world”.
Gibraltar came to a standstill as the team’s many supporters across the community were glued to their screens watching how the team succeeded in their final group match on the day.
Tense moments were lived as Gibraltar defended their advantage against an opponent that required to win at all cost to overtake them.
Gibraltar’s head coach, Julio Ribas opted to start with a defensive looking lineup with only young Tjay De Barr upfront. Defensive heavy back lines included seven players whose traditional roles within their clubs were in defence.
Weathering the storm Gibraltar held on and secured the one-all draw which was enough to win their group and claim an automatic promotion to the UEFA Nations League C.
This week’s friendly international against Liechtenstien will have few of the dramas of that day, but will have all eyes set on the new era created by Gibraltar’s own success.
Facing relegation from League C after finishing bottom of their group and with a play-off to still be played to decided Gibraltar’s fate, the critics have been out questioning Gibraltar’s development during the past two years.
Julio Riba’s own words at the start of his tenure will hang heavily over him as Gibraltar slips from being in the latter part of the 190’s in FIFA ranking to falling to just two places above when he arrived.
Liechtenstien and Andorra, two sides which Gibraltar once looked at cautiously but with some optimism, are now seen as teams which Gibraltar should be looking to win against if they are to provide proof of having made a step forward in their development.
However, neutrals, will argue against such optimisms cautiously indicating that Gibraltar’s development, though having taken them into League C is far from over, and far from having lifted Gibraltar into the realms some claim.
Gibraltar will be expected to put in a performance in which they will be looking for a positive result from both matches.
Whilst all eyes will be looking towards the World Cup Gibraltar will be hoping that producing positive results will lift them those small ranking positions which will highlight the vast developments Gibraltar football has seen.
Rising from being considered as mere minnows, even described as a pub team, or “the worst in the world” to providing results. Whether minor wins or draws against teams with a similar level. Gibraltar, whilst not quite at the level of league C teams yet, scraping at the fringes to be included within that list. Less than ten years since arriving on the international scene and with the smallest pool of players across the whole of UEFA, if not FIFA.
This week’s friendly matches will also be the last two internationals which will be played at the Victoria Stadium and which Gibraltar will hope writes a new positive page in its football history book, hopefully seeing the fans return to support them as they did in 2018.