Striker Tjay De Barr has warned the Republic of Ireland not to expect Gibraltar to be easy prey as they attempt to launch their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign with a win.
The sides will meet for just the third time on the artificial surface at the Victoria Stadium on Saturday evening with Ireland having coasted to victory in their only two previous meetings, a 7-0 romp at the Aviva Stadium October 2014 and a 4-0 success in Faro 11 months later.
Julio Ribas’ men head into the game having followed up their first competitive victory – a 1-0 Nations League win in Armenia – with another against Liechtenstein in October last year and confident they are a very different outfit to the one which succumbed to the Irish during the Euro 2016 qualifiers.
Nineteen-year-old De Barr is a more recent addition to the squad, but he is convinced Gibraltar will more than give Ireland a game, particularly on their own pitch, which was formally approved by UEFA only on Thursday.
Asked if home advantage would give them a better chance, he said: “One hundred per cent. Looking back four years ago and looking now, we have bettered ourselves massively and I believe we have got a chance. You’ve got to believe that in any game, you can win, we got to believe that.”
“Playing at home gives us an advantage. Four years ago, things were different, different managers, different players.”
“We’ve got a fresh team, a blend of youth and experienced players, which is a good mix to have. The team is great. There are a lot of jokes and it helps in the game when you have got a good mix within the players.”
“You can really tell that the experienced players are looking out for the younger players coming through. At the end of the day, only good can come from that.”
The improvement Gibraltar have made under Uruguayan head coach Ribas has been marked and while he too is confident his players will build upon their recent successes in front of a home crowd, he knows the new test they face is significantly bigger than those presented by their Nations League fixture list.
Ribas said: “Ireland are obviously one of the 30 best teams in the world, they have got a great team and we know we need to be prepared. We are here to do our best.”
“We drew, unfortunately or fortunately, however you want to look at it, great teams in the group such as Switzerland and Denmark, who have had excellent results in their previous campaigns, as well as Georgia, a team which is constantly growing internationally.”
“It’s for us to write our history now and continue what we started in the Nations League. We have to keep growing as a team, but always working hard with passion and humility.”