Team Solent FC

BRADLEY IN ALBANIA

Team Solent goalkeeper Bradley Banda missed three matches for his Club in early October after being selected by his homeland, Gibraltar, to play in the Qualifying Round of the European Under 19 championships. The Tournament starts with thirteen groups of four who all play each other once with all the matches taking place in one of the competing Countries in each group. The top two from each group plus the best third-placed team and the holders, Spain, move on to the Elite Round which consists of seven groups of four and is played under the same format as the earlier Round. The seven group winners then join the hosts, Georgia, for the Finals.

Gibraltar were drawn with Germany, the Republic of Ireland and Albania with all the matches being played in the last named of the four Countries.

Gibraltar faced Germany, arguably the strongest team in the Group, in their opening game which was played at Durres some 33k from the Capital Tirana. Germany led one nil at the break and scored again immediately upon the re-start before adding three more in the last ten minutes, including stoppage time, as fitness undoubtedly told, although the statistics of the game suggest it was a largely defensive performance with the winners having 34 attempts at goal and Gibraltar just two. In the other game the Republic of Ireland ( to be referred to as Eire from now on) beat Albania by a goal to nil and were Gibraltar’s opponents in their second game. This was again played in Durres with, perhaps surprisingly, the same referee from Slovakia. The game very much mirrored the first game with the same scoreline and virtually the same statistics and again three goals were conceded in the last ten minutes. Germany beat Albania three two to keep their one hundred per cent record. So the final game pitted the two Countries yet to gain a point against each other with the game being played in the main Stadium in Tirana, with the referee now coming from Lithuania. This proved a much closer, if somewhat more defensive, game overall with an eighth minute goal for the hosts deciding the outcome. The suggestion that it may have been more defensive comes from the statistics showing that the two sides mustered just eleven attempts on goal between them in the ninety minutes.

So this was to be the beginning and the end of Gibraltar’s participation in the Tournament with Germany, who beat Eire four nil in their final game, topping the group with nine points and. along with Eire, progressing to the next stage of the Competition.

However participation in such Tournaments can only help Countries such as Gibraltar to improve and progress and hopefully, despite the results, Bradley will have both enjoyed and learned from the experience.

Test Park is going to seem very different |