7th October 2016
World Cuo Qualifier
A. Le Coq Arena, Tallinn, Estonia
Estonia v. Gibraltar
Gibraltar’s first match as a member of the Worst in the World gang comes against an opposition they have actually enjoyed a degree of success against in the none too distant past.
Estonia will host our intrepid men from the Rock on Friday in Match Day Two of European World Cup qualifying, and for Gibraltar the trip to Tallinn will evoke memories of one of the finest nights in their short international football history.
A friendly in May 2014 saw Gibraltar come from behind to secure a 1-1 draw, and with it their only positive result away from home since becoming a UEFA member in 2013. This came a few weeks after playing the same opponent at home, but going down to a 2-0 loss. The equaliser in Tallinn came from winger Jake Gosling, one of two strikes he has for the national team. That double tally makes Gosling the top scorer for Gibraltar since they became “official” – a stark reminder of the level Gibraltar are playing at in comparison to the global powers surrounding them.
Gibraltar secured their place in FIFA only a few months ago, but just in time to be allocated to a World Cup qualifying group. Their only match so far saw them go down 1-4 at “home” to Greece (played in Faro, Portugal as the home stadium in Gibraltar is not deemed good enough to host international matches).
It is with the thoughts of those highly competitive, and fairly evenly contested, clashes in 2014 that Gibraltar travel to Tallinn for the latest chapter in their World Cup bow. With Bosnia-Herzegovina, Belgium, Greece and Cyprus providing the other group opponents, it is the clashes with Estonia that may provide the best opportunities for grabbing that first ever competitive point, and with it a rise up the rankings. This has the feel of a real opportunity for Gibraltar to make their mark against opponents who are not having the best of times.
It is thanks to Estonia’s heavy loss to Bosnia, and Cyprus’s failure to score in losing by three to Belgium, that Gibraltar actually sit 4th out of 6 in the group standing after one match. Fairly meaningless that may be, but it does demonstrate that Estonia are not exactly operating world’s apart from Gibraltar. With a positive set up, and a bit of luck, there could be an opportunity for Gibraltar to make their mark in this match.
Hope springs eternal for us here at Worst in the World, but in Gibraltar’s case there is evidence to back up the hope, and the feeling that Gibraltar are too good to belong to our club is one that won’t go away. They have had positive results prior to FIFA membership which gave no ranking points of course, and suffer from being a European nation having to play nations far bigger and better (football-wise) than themselves.
With Belgium up nest a few day’s later, things will get a good deal tougher from here. But there is genuine hope in facing Estonia that Gibraltar could pull off what would still be a shock, and take something from the Estonia match.
Europe Group H Standings: