Realistic Gibraltar aiming for small-scale success

Mon Nov 18, 2013 3:13pm EST
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By Daniel Alvarenga

ALMANCIL, Portugal (Reuters) - Despite having only three professional players, UEFA new boys Gibraltar are sowing the seeds to make sure they will not be subject to humiliating defeats, Gibraltar FA Chief Executive Officer Dennis Beiso said.

Ahead of an historic UEFA debut against Slovakia at Portugal's Algarve stadium on Tuesday (1.30 P.M. EST), Beiso said the tiny Iberian enclave of 30,000 people will be brave but realistic in its ambitions.

"We will use other small countries in Europe as our model. For instance Malta, Liechtenstein, Andorra," he told Reuters on Monday.

"When they started in their football development they were regularly getting beaten 8-, 9- ,10-0. These days it's far tougher to beat them and certainly they are never embarrassed in the field of play."

The rocky territory became UEFA's 54th member in May, following a 14-year court marathon against Spain's objections to their football ambitions as a national side.

Gibraltar has about 1,400 players, two divisions and 20 teams. Ten percent of its population is somehow involved in the sport.

Beiso said most of those in Gibraltar will be glued to television screens on Tuesday.

"There is a huge amount of interest in the game. People are getting organized to watch it in bars, at home. It's going to be a massive social event".   Continued...

Gibraltar's coach Allen Bulla (2nd L), captain Joseph Chipolina and Gibraltar Football Association President Desmond Reoch (R) speak with a journalist after a news conference at Algarve stadium near Faro November 18, 2013. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante