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Pepe Reyes Cup kicks off new season

The Gibraltar football league season kicks off this Friday evening with the annual Pepe Reyes Cup which will see Bruno Magpies take on Lincoln Red Imps.
The encounter between last season’s league champions and Cup winners is likely to set the tone for the first weeks of a newly formatted league.
This season the league will see two rounds of matches played between all eleven clubs before it is split with only the top six playing the final round.
Already changes in squads and transfers have raised concerns over whether all the teams participating will survive. Glacis United are among one of the sides where the biggest concerns have emerged with the club having had only fourteen players listed within the squad with just two week before the start of the season.
This Friday’s match will see the return of Nathan Ronney to the bench as head coach of Bruno Magpies. The departure of key players, along with their early exit from the Europa Conference League raised many eyebrows as to the fate of the club after two successful seasons qualifying to play in European club competitions.
Their opponents, Lincoln red Imps, whom they beat in the Rock Cup final at the end of the season enter this year’s campaign with a number of key players already side-lined due to injury.
Julian Valarino and Graeme Torrilla are among the players with long term injuries which could see them out of action for sometime.
The latest victim entering the injury list is Bernardo Lope who limped off in the match against Malta. A suspected fracture is likely to keep him on the bench for sometime adding to Lincoln Red Imps’ early woes.
Bruno Magpies, will be looking to break the trend which last saw a team outside of the pairing of Europa and Lincoln Red Imps from lifting the Pepe Reyes Cup. This stretching back to 2013 when St Joseph last lifted the trophy. Since then Europa and Lincoln Red Imps sharing the trophy.
The last time someone other than Europa played against Lincoln Red Imps in this opening match of the season was in 2014 when St Joseph played Lincoln, the match finishing in a 2-2 draw.
Since then Lincoln Red Imps have lifted the trophy three times, with Europa lifting it four times.
The cup which is dedicated to Jose Reyes, former president of the Gibraltar Football Association during the 1990s has seen just six teams playing for the trophy. Lincoln Red Imps has won it twelve times, with Europa four times. Manchester 62, Glacis United, winning it twice and St Joseph’s winning it once. Gibraltar United being the sixth team that has played in the final before this weekend, having finished runner-up five times. Gibraltar United at present suspended from playing in the Gibraltar Football League having received a five year ban which is due to come to an end at the end of this season.
Bruno Magpies become the seventh team to now put their name down for the final, and will be hoping to become the sixth winner of the same.
The football league campaign starts on Saturday with the first match seeing Europa Point face Manchester 62 at 16.30hrs.
The match brings together on the field an interesting encounter with both sides having reinforced squads. Whilst Manchester 62 have attracted some big local names within their ranks and brought in players from the UK, Europa Point are also known to have strengthened their squad, although few details as to the strength of their team is known.
The second match of the day will see St Joseph take on Europa.
A match which has in the past been classed as one of the classics will see two sides whose fates have gone in very different directions this summer. St Joseph’s who have risen from financial problems faced two seasons ago walk into the new campaign with a freshly reinforced squad and some of the top names who last season played for Europa.
The latter for their part have seen a departure of many of their top names and concerns over the future of the club as it restructured financially into the new season. Expectations are that Europa will this season rely on its youth players to reduce its costs.
Other matches this weekend will include Lynx against Lions Gibraltar. This will be a test for two local head coaches as Parody and Parral field their refreshed squads for a new league campaign. Lions this summer on the verge of new ownership.
Glacis United play Mons Calpe in which both sides fortunes during the summer break will be seen.

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