Gibraltar’s Women’s National Team kicked off a busy year for Women’s Football on the international scene, with two international Friendlies in February, away in Andorra and then at home to the Faroe Islands.
The two friendlies were part of the February FIFA international Window for Women’s Football and gave Gibraltar Head Coach, Janssen Olivero, a much-needed test against for his young Gibraltar squad against two very tough opponents, as he looks to build his team up towards entering UEFA’s next European Qualifiers.
First up was Andorra away, on the 16th February, in what proved to be a game of two halves in the Estadi Nacional in Andorra La Vella. After a bad start, Gibraltar somehow managed to find themselves 4-0 down and shellshocked before a bursting run by Pizzarello down the left-hand side, where she took the ball from inside her own penalty area, ripping through the Andorran defence, before crossing for Joelle Gilbert to slot home Gibraltar’s only goal of the game.
At half time, Janssen Olivero rallied his team, and made some crucial tactical changes before sending the Women’s Team out in the second half with nothing to lose. And they did not disappoint dominating the second half. Despite the 4-1 at the final whistle, Gibraltar had taken control of the of the game after the interval and even though they could not break through a solid Andorran defence their determination and desire was there for all to see. The result slightly flattered the hosts, however valuable lessons were learnt, most importantly that at international level any mistakes made are punished by the opposition.
Gibraltar’s Women then returned to the Victoria Stadium to face the Faroe Islands on Sunday 20th February putting on a much better performance, in front of their home crowd, against much tougher opposition despite having injuries to key players Pizzarello and Doody.
Playing on the counter with quick, aggressive forward running thanks to the speed of Joelle Gilbert, Shania Robba and Reighann Olivero, Gibraltar were always a threat to their Faroese opponents, who only won the game thanks to a misplaced pass which was picked up on by Mortenson who fired home the only goal of the game.
Again, despite the score line, Gibraltar looked much more confident with plenty of youngsters on show and gaining valuable international experience. And Ellie Mason, playing international football for the first time slotted straight into the heart of the team bringing with her all her knowledge and expertise from playing professionally in the Championship, in England, with Lewes FC.
After the two matches, Head Coach Janssen Olivero was happy with the week, despite the score lines, saying:
“We faced an opposition who have come up against some top nations and are involved in World Cup Qualifiers against some of the toughest nations there are in Women’s Football.”
“It’s a massive step up for us. We put a lot of emphasis on a different style of play and it showed the versatility that these players have. Today I thought we found the right balance of solid at the back whilst also being a threat going forward.”
The attention, on the international scene, now turns to Futsal, with Gibraltar’s Women’s Futsal National Team who are set to host Moldova, Slovakia and Belgium in the Preliminary Round of the UEFA Women’s Futsal Euros at the Tercentenary Hall in May with the tournament schedule to be announced very shortly.