Gibraltar Chronicle Logo

Lincoln Red Imps Kick Off Their Champions League Campaign Against a Very Brazilian-Looking Hamrun Squad

Lincoln Red Imps will kick off their Champions League campaign this evening with a first-leg away tie against Maltese side Hamrun Spartans. They traveled to Malta this weekend with a fresh-faced squad that includes new signings such as Joe Martinez, who has transitioned from Bruno Magpies to the league champions.

Joe Martinez was positive Lincoln Red Imps would aim for all the trophies this season once again. “We have a good group and we are going for everything this year,” he told Lincoln Red Imps’ official website while also emphasizing that the team’s main focus was to get past the first round of the Champions League.

A bulk of the squad that has headed to Malta is formed by Gibraltar internationals. Javi Munoz has at his disposal a core of homegrown players, including the ever-present Roy Chipolina, Bernardo Lopes, Ethan Britto, Lee Casciaro, John Sergeant, and Tjay De Barr. They are now once again joined by Graeme Torrilla and Julian Valarino, both of whom missed most of last season due to injury, and Jaylan Hankin, who returns after two years on loan. Another Gibraltar international, Daniel Bent, has been establishing himself at the club since his departure from Bruno’s. The group of homegrown players has ample experience in European club competition football, having played in both the Champions League and Conference League in past seasons. Although it is yet to be seen if Javi Munoz will use his full complement of homegrown players, in previous seasons he has often placed his trust in new signings, most of whom have little experience in European club competitions.

Lincoln Red Imps arrived in Malta this past weekend, with the players taking a walk around St. Julian’s Bay as they prepared for their Champions League encounter against the Maltese league champions. Among the squad heading to Malta were Toni Garcia, previously from Logrones and Murcia; Rafa Munoz, formerly from San Mariano Calcio (Italy); Pedro Martin, who has played in India, Switzerland, and Spain; and Cid Carlos, an attacking midfielder from Langreo. These new players have signed this summer to reinforce Javi Munoz’s squad.

Another addition to the squad is Kike Gomez, who made his return to the club after a spell on loan last season, and youngsters Lee Chipolina and Jonathan Sciorti, who have risen through the ranks into the senior side and been training with the senior squad. Kike Gomez, although having left on loan at a time he was misfiring in front of goal, has gained experience playing European club competition matches during his playing days in Gibraltar, having formed part of both the Europa squad and Lincoln Red Imps in past seasons.

Lincoln Red Imps’ opponents, Hamrun Spartans, were founded in 1907 and have won ten league championships, the latest being in 2024, while being runners-up eleven times. Their current squad listings include ten Brazilian players, a Nigerian national, and a Croatian, with just nine Maltese players listed in their squad. With a further six Maltese players available, all of whom have been on loan throughout the last season.

Italian Alessandro Zinnari is their current head coach, the club having seen five Italian head coaches since 2018, along with one Maltese and one Croatian coach during the same period. Since 2011, the Maltese club has seen a turnover of eleven head coaches. They were Malta’s league champions in 2020-21, 2022-23, and 2023-24.

They made their return to European club competitions in 2022-23, having missed out since the 1992-93 season. Their return in 2022-23 saw them play in what was then the UEFA Europa Conference League (now known as just the UEFA Conference League). They reached the play-offs, having beaten Alashkert in the first round with a 4-2 aggregate score. In the second round, they disposed of Velez Mostar with a 2-0 aggregate before beating Levski Sofia in the third round on penalties. They drew their play-off home leg against Partizan 3-3 but fell away from home to a 4-1 scoreline.

The 2023-24 season saw them losing to Maccabi Haifa in the first round of the Champions League with an aggregate score of 1-6. Entering the second round of the Europa Conference League, they beat Dinamo Tbilisi 2-1 at home and 1-0 away to go through to the next round, where they faced Hungarian side Ferencvaros. A 1-6 defeat at home, alongside a 1-2 defeat in their away encounter, saw them fall 2-8 on aggregate.

Most Read

Download The App On The iOS Store