Sunday 21 April 2019

Gibraltar boss confident playing on the rock gives his side a better chance of upsetting Ireland

Gibraltar manager Julio César Ribas during a press conference at Victoria Stadium in Gibraltar. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Gibraltar manager Julio César Ribas during a press conference at Victoria Stadium in Gibraltar. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Aidan Fitzmaurice in Gibraltar

Gibraltar believe that home advantage can swing things their way when they face Mick McCarthy's Republic of Ireland in the opening game of the Euro 2020 qualifiers on Saturday evening.

Ireland won 4-0 the last time they played 'away' to Gibraltar, in the Euro 2016 qualifiers, but that tie was played in Faro (Portugal) as the Gibraltar FA did not have UEFA clearance to play matches on home soil.

They have since revamped the 2,300-capacity Victoria Stadium, the only playing surface on the Rock, and having hosted games in the Nations League last year, bringing Ireland to the Victoria Stadium is a big deal, as McCarthy has already expressed his concerns about the artificial pitch at the ground.

"It's amazing for us to be at home," says their coach Julio Ribas. "This is where we live, this is the air that we breathe, this is the place that we want to play our football, in front of our own fans and to try and please them as much as we can.

"It's important for me as a coach that we play at home, to emotionally connect with the crowd and the people, when you play at home the crowd can be the 12th man."

Ribas is a Uruguayan native who has been in charge of the side since last year so he was not on the staff when Gibraltar last played Ireland, in the Euro 2016 qualifiers, but he feels the team have come on since those games where Ireland won 7-0 and 4-0.

"This is the third game with Ireland but those games are in the past, we want to wrote our own history now and continue what we started in the Nations League," he said, referring to Gibraltar's wins over Armenia and Liechtenstein last year.

"The performances in the Nations League made the country feel proud but the main thing is that we keep growing."

Ireland will train at the Victoria Stadium on Friday evening.

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