Euro 2016 Group D: Basement nations Georgia and Gibraltar battle it out
Sam Barnard, Assistant Sports Editor | October 8, 2015
They may be barely two years old as a UEFA nation, but the football confederation’s smallest member Gibraltar have certainly shown they have plenty of room for improvement as their Euro 2016 Group D campaign comes to a close.
GFA (50/1 match chances with Coral), as they are nicknamed, have lost all eight of their maiden competitive matches to date, however have turned in goals against Scotland and Poland, the same tally as former Euro Championship winners Greece in their pool.
Gibraltar succumbed to a 3-0 in the reverse fixture against upcoming opponents Georgia (1/20 odds-on favourites) at their temporary home ground Faro in Portugal, but certainly have hope of causing an upset.
The tiny oversees British territory have already beaten Malta and drawn with more established nations Estonia and Slovakia, who are just two points behind Spain in Group C, since 2013.
Gibraltar’s main problem has been the amount of goals they have leaked so far in Group D, 46 in total, but that hasn’t been helped with the loss of Danny Higginbotham to retirement before the qualifying campaign and now Scott Wiseman again.
Scunthorpe United full back Wiseman has returned from a niggling injury in the summer for his club, which put him out of the September internationals, but as League One doesn’t have an international break it seems that his manager couldn’t risk losing him for the matches with Georgia and then Scotland.
In fact new GFA boss, Englishman Jeff Wood, has decided to leave out fellow British-based players David Artell and Adam Priestley once more.
There is a spot in the team for Bristol Rovers attacker Jake Gosling, though, after his wonderful late finish against Poland last time out to make him now the leading goalscorer for the nation on two.
Oxford-born Gosling, 22, is very much part of the future of Gibraltar football, and is well priced at 15/2 to net again anytime in Tbilisi.
Watch this funny spoof of Wayne Rooney’s shirt presentation after breaking England goal record, when Gosling became Gibraltar’s leading scorer with two…
Former Portsmouth and Bnei Yehuda schemer Liam Walker, however, is Wood’s key player, and will be desperate to record his first international goal. The midfielder has come close a couple of times against Germany’s Manuel Neuer and is prolific for club team Lincoln Red Imps, so is also 15/2 in the same market.
Others to look out for in attack include Lee Casciaro (11/2), who netted against Scotland, his brother Kyle (6/1), the second of three siblings in this squad, and back in-form striker after a long lay-off George Cabrera (also 6/1).
For Georgia, meanwhile, Genk midfielder Tornike Okriashvili is their only player to have scored twice this campaign, one being against Gib. He is 9/2 to strike first. Strikers Mate Vatsadze and Bachana Tskhadadze, meanwhile, are odds-on 3/4 shouts in the anytime market.
While neither the Crusaders nor Gibraltar can come anywhere near to qualifying for the France finals, they will no doubt give it their all for pride and to put down a marker for their next campaigns.
Gib’s players are certainly up for it…
I'm just getting ready for this 7 hour flight to Georgia
— jake gosling (@jake_gosling_) October 6, 2015
Travelling Georgia n Scotland next #GFA
— Kyle Casciaro (@KyleCasciaro87) October 6, 2015
Coral’s top tip: Georgia are the heavy odds-on favourites for victory at home, but are a more enticing 4/1 price to win and both teams score, as Gib have scored on the road twice these qualifiers already.