Julio Ribas called his first ever Gibraltar squad yesterday for the forthcoming UEFA Nations League games against FYR Macedonia at home and Liechtenstein away.
The UEFA Nations League is a new international tournament that sees all 55 of UEFA’s members associations’ national teams divided into a series of groups based upon a ranking formulated using their recent results, where they would be promoted and relegated to other groups according to their results within the group. All 55 nations are divided into leagues depending on their standing in UEFA’s rankings. 12 teams will be in League A, 12 teams in League B, 15 teams in League C, and 16 teams in League D. In each division, four groups are formed (three or four teams in each group) and play each other both home and away. Teams can also be promoted and relegated to a higher or lower division. Each group winner (there are four groups in each division) is automatically promoted to the next higher division for the next tournament. Each team placing last in its group is automatically relegated to the next lower division.
Furthermore, the UEFA Nations League will be linked with the UEFA European Championship qualifying, providing teams another chance to qualify for the UEFA European Championship.
In addition to the Nations League Finals of League A, there will be four play-offs with a similar format. Each group winner takes a spot in the semi-finals. If the group winner is already one of 20 qualified teams, rankings will be used to give the play-off spot to another team of the league. If fewer than four teams in the entire League remain unqualified, play-off spots for that league are given to teams of the next-lower league. This determines the four remaining qualifying spots for the European Championship (out of 24 total).
The squad itself is a mixture of young players and established internationals. This is the intial squad that will be trimmed down for the games themselves. Gibraltar United’s contingent is comprised of Chino, Erin and Jamie. There are a number of new faces, most notably Matt Cafer who now qualifies following the change in the eiligibility rules introduced last year and Reece Styche who was last called up by Allen Bula. The increase of HGP players in the league has also given other younger players the opportunity to showcase their talents on the pitch
Chino kept goal in Gibraltar’s win over Latvia in March as well as keeping a clean sheet, all this in his International debut. He was justly rewarded after years of dedication and keeping goal for United. Indeed for a long time he was the only local keeper getting regular playing time in the Premier Division and his Cap was a long time coming. We wish Chino well and hope he continues his International development.
Erin is a regular for Gibraltar and already has 11 senior caps as well as a plethora of appearances for the Under 21 and Under 19 sides. He has been a regular in United’s defensive line for the past two seasons and took a more leading role last season in particular. He turned out for the Under 21s in March’s games seeing as they were of a competitive nature but has been recalled by Rivas into the Senior side. Erin is a clear of case of how hard work and dedication reap their own rewards.
Jamie has been a stalwart of the International squad for a number of years now. He has 12 caps to his name and has played against Germany and Belgium in the past. His combatitive nature of play as well as his graft and dedication make his selection a given and he will no doubt fight to get into the XI against Macedonia. Jamie has added a further element to his play as he enjoyed his best goal scoring season in 17/18 and has already opened his account this year.
Whatever the case we urge all the football loving public to turn up at Victoria Stadium on the 6th September to give Gibraltar your support and be that 12th man on the stands. We will all be Gibraltar on that day!!