GFA change squad rules
for Slovakia friendly

By JOHN CULATTO
BRITISH passport-holders who are born here, have Gibraltarian parents or grandparents OR have attended school for five years locally will now be available for selection to the GFA squad, according to a unanimous decision by the GFA board on Tuesday.

The decision came as the squad for the forthcoming friendly against Slovakia in Faro, Portugal was presented yesterday, giving places to three UK-based players.

The new eligibility requirements bring Gibraltar into line with UEFA and FIFA recommendations contributing professional and semi-professional experience to the set-up.

The change means that instead of having to be registered Gibraltarians, players now have more lenient entry requirements, and gives the green light for Chester FC player Danny Higginbotham to join the squad. The former Manchester United and Stoke City defender has around 20 years of top-flight footballing experience behind him, and agreed to play for Gibraltar on 18 September 2013. He will fly straight to Portugal after his competitive match on Saturday. He will be joined by Barnsley right-back, Scott Wiseman, whose mother was born in Gibraltar and has nearly a decade of professional experience behind him having just turned 28. A spokesman for Barnsley FC said it was "a brilliant opportunity for him to play against the best of Europe" adding that "playing in the Championship gives him a multitude of experience playing against teams that have only just been relegated from Premier League". "Scott is also good going forward where he can use pace down the right flank," he said.

The third addition is striker Adam Priestley of Farsley AFC who are currently in fourth place of the First Division of the Northern Premier League. The changes also mean that manager Allen Bula now reverts to a purely tactical role. He will make his selection based on whether each player can play his style of football, are match fit and injury-free. He made it clear that while for this match he would only be enforcing these rules to 90% because it was at short notice and the season had just started, in the future this would be the case for all forthcoming internationals. In this respect Lee Casciaro has been declared 85% fit and therefore available for selection. "It is difficult to bring together semi-professionals and professionals but from what I have seen so far they are very good players and mentality-wise they are capable. The amateur players are playing like professionals so the gelling will go quite well," predicted Bula.

Historic

While Roy Chipolina has been selected as the team captain, the rest of the squad has been selected from Gibraltar clubs apart from Liam Walker from CD San Roque. All the players apart from Danny Higginbotham, Scott Wiseman and Adam Priestley (the latter two will arrive tomorrow) signed all the registration papers yesterday and will start their first training session today.

"We are treating this game as a dress rehearsal for the Euro qualifiers in September," said GFA President Desmond Reoch. "We cannot play competitive games at senior international level because as you know the Victoria Stadium is classified as a Cat. 2 stadium and it should be a Cat. 4." Reoch said the UEFA suggested that the GFA arrange a friendly in Faro, Portugal to get used to the logistical effort such a game would incur. "It is going to be a historic match for the whole of Gibraltar. It has been a very long road and to finally see the senior squad play at this level is going to be massive. The eyes of the world are upon us."

"We are going out to win and to give a very good performance. I hope everyone goes and watches it in a good spirit. It is history in the making and going to be emotional for everyone," he said.

Entry to the match in Faro, Portugal will be free and everyone who gets to the stadium will be able to take home a special commemorative matchday programme to remember the occasion.

14-11-13 PANORAMAdailyGIBRALTAR




PreviousHeadlinesNext