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Positives in defeat for Gibraltar Futsal Under 19s

Gibraltar U19’s futsal squad was to receive the support it deserved this weekend as they took on visiting side Bloomsbury Futsal. Although the visitors were originally thought to be an under-19 side, they presented a bigger challenge with some players much older than the Gibraltar squad. This did not deter the local team from taking on the challenge.
Bloomsbury Futsal is described as an academy whose adult players on their Men’s and Women’s First teams play futsal at the top level in England and beyond. In the 2022-2023 season, Bloomsbury Futsal’s first teams dominated English futsal across the top-tier National Divisions of the FA National Futsal Series and the National Futsal League. Both the Men’s and Women’s First teams won their Tier One League Play-Off finals in the National Futsal League, securing the Men’s team a place in the UEFA Futsal Champions League 2023.
The young Gibraltar team, guided by head coach Jamie Bosio, faced a strong challenge against a team that had been playing together for some time. Unlike the visitors, this was just one of a handful of opportunities for the Under-19s to get together, with some studying abroad already making it difficult for the team to come together throughout the season.
Although the Euros were on this past weekend, with the first match between Bloomsbury and Gibraltar U19s clashing with the Spain v Germany quarter-final, it did not deter the close to two hundred spectators that attended Europa Sports Complex to watch their U19 national side play. In the stands, half the spectators had their iPhones out watching the livestream while simultaneously keeping up with the futsal before them.
The main focus was the Gibraltar team, who showed confidence in both attack and defense. Their high-pressure tactics at moments placed their opponents in disarray as they found themselves unable to move the ball out of their defense and being pushed back. Both keepers provided some excellent displays. Gibraltar’s captain showed some mettle with his challenges in defense, which acted as an inspiration for others to follow.
With just a minute to halftime, a header down to the feet of a teammate saw Gibraltar go ahead. The phones were now in pockets as Spain had beaten Germany, but few were concerned about the result as Gibraltar U19 went ahead. Stealing as the visitors set on a quick counter, Gibraltar’s captain found himself turning the tables and setting up a counter, but his decision to shoot went over the bar when he had the scorer free in support, just moments after the first goal. The first half finished with Gibraltar in the lead.
The second half saw the tables turn. Just after Gibraltar had struck the post, the visitors leveled the score. Gibraltar conceded the second from a run down the right, and the ball across goal saw a defender slide in front of the keeper, leading to an unfortunate second goal conceded when Gibraltar had been creating their opportunities at the other end. Gibraltar was unlucky not to level with eleven minutes left. A nicely chipped ball was well controlled, and the pass back in front of goal was only stopped by a last-second block by the post. Gibraltar conceded a further two goals in this match but added a second to their tally, ultimately being defeated 2-4 by the visitors.
In the second of the double-header matches, the positives of a well-disciplined Gibraltar U19 team were once again seen. However, the visitors showed why they had been performing well in the UK and how having played together had gelled them into a big challenge for the Gibraltar U19s. A final 3-6 defeat, although disappointing for the local players, nevertheless yielded many positives as they prepare for their international matches ahead. At the same time, it highlighted the need for more matches under their belt to gain added experience as a team.

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