Gibraltar’s Men’s National Futsal Team travelled to Germany in April for their much-anticipated FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, on the back of a resurgent and successful domestic futsal season.
At the draw, Gibraltar had been placed in Group A of UEFA’s Preliminary Futsal World Cup Qualifiers against familiar opposition in Montenegro and San Marino and a somewhat ‘unknown’ in Germany who are an extremely ‘young’ Futsal national team hence their presence at this stage of the tournament.
As group hosts, the DFB (German FA) had chosen the CU Arena in Hamburg, a two thousand capacity indoor venue, and as the fixtures were released, Gibraltar would have the daunting challenge of facing their German hosts first up.
Despite not having a rich history in international Futsal, the Germans are undoubtedly a team on the up, intent on climbing up the world rankings as quickly as possible, and in the Group A opener, in front of their home crowd, they wanted to put on a show. 3-0 up at half time, they went on to an 8-0 win over Gibraltar, but none the less Gibraltar’s squad were not to down as they had their sights set on more important matters later on in the week.
Second up for Gibraltar was Montenegro, no strangers to Gibraltar and who were the second favourites, alongside Germany, to make it through Group A of the World Cup Preliminary Qualifiers. True to form they proved to be tough opponents for Gibraltar, running out 5-0 winners as Gibraltar had Jaydan Parody sent off in the final staged of the match, ruling him out of the final group game.
Despite being on the wrong end of the score lines in the opening two qualifiers, Gibraltar were still totally focussed on their key target for the week, the third match which would see them take on San Marino. This was the one fixture that Head Coach Jose Carlos Gil Prieto and his coaching staff had targeted and aimed for, despite the progression made by San Marino’s on the International Futsal scene.
Without the suspended Jaydan Parody, Gibraltar began with Mark Moxham in goal, Nick Castle, Kieron Garcia, Jamie Bosio and Andrew Lopez as the starting 5 with Joseph Nahon, Chris Remorino, Aiman Mkerref, Jamie Fortuna, Noufal El Andaloussi, Zane Holgado, Guy Olivero and Ashley Rodriguez primed and ready to come off the bench.
At half time, San Marino were 1-0 up thanks to an 11th minute Busignani strike leaving Gibraltar with a mountain to climb in the second half. In the 25th minute Jamie Bosio set up Noufal El Andaloussi who made it 1-1. Fifteen minutes to go and all to play for. In the 36th minute, Kieron Garcia was brought down on the halfway line. Garcia took the free kick quickly and played in El Andaloussi who slotted home Gibraltar’s second expertly past the San Marino Goalkeeper.
Gibraltar had turned the game on its head in a little over ten minutes. A nervy last five minutes followed, which seemed like an eternity (as in futsal the clock stops as the ball goes out of play) but Moxham stood firm in the Gibraltar goal and as the final whistle went Gibraltar recorded a historic away in in a Futsal World Cup Qualifier.
The win against San Marino meant Gibraltar finished Group A in third place, on three points behind Germany and Montenegro, who both progress into the main round of UEFA’s Futsal World Cup Qualifiers.
The second half comeback against San Marino saw Gibraltar reach their aim of winning one of their three tough fixtures and in doing so bring home plenty of positives to build on as international Futsal across all of UEFA’s Member Nations keeps on growing and growing.