Lincoln set for ‘surreal’ clash with Celtic
Lincoln captain Roy Chipolina last night said he and his team were relishing the “surreal” prospect of facing Scottish champions Celtic on home ground at the Victoria Stadium this evening.
Chipolina remained optimistic yet realistic about his club’s prospects, even as he described the challenges of combining fulltime employment and European-level football.
“Football miracles happen” he told reporters at a pre-match press conference.
“Let’s hope that Celtic have an iffy game.”
“If we were to win it would be the biggest shock in European competitive football.”
But Brendan Rodgers, former Liverpool Manager and now Celtic manager, left no doubt Lincoln would have a tough job on their hands.
Celtic, he made clear, was not expecting any surprises, although the Scottish side was leaving nothing to chance.
“I don’t think it will be a surprise,” he said. “I can respect that for them. This is a big game.”
Tonight’s match, which kicks off at 8pm, was described by Lincoln as “the biggest club tie in Gibraltar football at a competitive level.”
But it has not been without its challenges for the local team.
Chipolina, who will be at work as a Customs officer until 3pm this afternoon, said it was difficult to have a full time job and be a part-time football player.
Lincoln Director Ian Payas explained that logistically, the semi-professional club had found it difficult to organise such a match at short notice.
“We have found it very difficult most of us all of us have our day jobs,”Payas explained.
“We played Talinn last Wednesday and we have had four days to organise for this game,.”
“Really if we would have had an away game it would have been easier for us.”
“If the Talinn game was difficult to organise this was even more difficult. We have had to do everything but at a bigger scale it’s a full time job to organise.”
The match has also highlighted the need for bigger facilities in which to host international games of this nature.
Chipolina said the fast sales of tickets had in his view shown that “we need a new stadium.”
“That stadium has to come especially with the FIFA qualifiers. I am actually looking forward to tomorrow I am finally playing a home game at home turf a match of this standard.”
Immediately after the Lincoln press conference Scott Brown captain of Celtic came on to give his press conference. He showed respect for the Lincoln team describing the players as a team with “good bonding” between them.
Club manager Mr Rodgers explained how he would have preferred to not have had to play matches such as todays so early in the season.
His first competitive match as Celtic manager Rodgers showed respect towards the Lincoln Red Imp team describing them as a “bunch of competitive guys” who he said he understood that this was one of the biggest games they would have played.
Celtic arrived in Gibraltar at 1.30 am on Monday and conducted their first trainings session at Victoria Stadium behind closed doors.
They arrived unbeaten in their pre-season preparations before today.