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Dublin: 18 °C Thursday 19 September, 2019
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One professional, two policemen and a fireman are part of the Gibraltar team trying to shock Ireland

They only have one full-time footballer, so the odds are against Gibraltar springing a shock.

These guys are 33/1 to beat Ireland this Saturday.
These guys are 33/1 to beat Ireland this Saturday.
Image: Associated Press

WHEN IRELAND TAKE the field against Gibraltar in their Euro 2016 qualifier this Saturday they will be going up against one professional footballer. Right back Scott Wiseman of Preston North End is joined by fireman goalkeeper Jordan Perez and policeman Ryan Casciaro, who plays in the Makelele role.

Captain Roy Chiopolina is a customs agent and former Portsmouth midfielder Liam Walker is their creative spark, pushing on from midfield. They might not have the skill and experience to make winning a realistic proposition, but they are still looking to exploit any hint of Irish overconfidence.

“The Gibraltar team will just be looking to give a good account of themselves when they come to Ireland,” said Daniel Griffin, who founded the first blog on the Gibraltar national team in 2010.

“They want to show that they can make the step up to international football. They will look to take advantage of any Irish complacency if they can sense that some of the players think they already have the result wrapped up.”

The majority of the team are based in Gibraltar with eight members of the side who started their first qualifier against Poland playing for the Lincoln Red Imps, who are the reigning champions of the Gibraltar Premier Division.

Gibraltar played their opening game at ‘home’ against Poland in the Algarve in Portugal and despite losing 7-0, Griffin says there were still positives to be taken from the country’s first foray into UEFA qualifying.

“They would have been happy with the first 45 minutes because they were only 1-0 down,” Griffin said.

“Obviously after that, the second half was nowhere near as good. But there are some passionate fans of the team and about 800-900 supporters made the long trip to Portugal for the game.”

Griffin is a Gibraltar native, who started his site because there was nowhere else for dedicated fans to go to read about the team. He hopes that playing in qualifying campaigns will give the players the exposure they need to get professionals contracts around Europe.

“There isn’t a big media following of the team because there isn’t a big media presence here, full stop,” Griffin said.

“There will be a couple of television journalists going over for the Ireland game to cover the team. Getting into UEFA qualifying was very important because before that there wasn’t even national scouting. Hopefully playing these games will give more players a chance to pick up a contract.”

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