Gibraltar defender Jayce Olivero will approach Monday night’s Euro 2024 qualifier against the Republic of Ireland as “a final” as the minnows look to add to Stephen Kenny’s misery.
The clash between the sides currently occupying the bottom two places in Group B at the Aviva Stadium could prove make or break for Kenny after Friday’s 2-1 defeat in Greece left his team pointless and with his critics once again on the offensive.
Gibraltar, who are ranked 201st by FIFA, have lost each of their three opening fixtures against the Greeks, the Netherlands and France 3-0 and while the odds may be heavily stacked against them in Dublin, Europa defender Olivero is relishing the task ahead.
He said: “The game for us is a final. Ireland are a great nation and a really, really big team, and they’ve always competed at the very top.
“This is what we want. We want to compete against the very best and we prepare with everything we have for every game we have, and that’s what we’re looking to do in our next game.
“We compete with everything we have and that’s the most important thing for us.”
Ireland were decidedly second-best in Athens as they followed up a 1-0 home defeat by France in their opening fixture – in which they produced a spirited display – with a tepid performance.
Asked if Gibraltar could capitalise on the fall-out from that game, manager Jose Ribas said: “It’s important that we focus on our game.
“Ireland are a great side regardless of their form at the moment. We’ve seen them playing against Greece, we’ve seen them playing against France and they’ve put in good performances.
“We respect them, they’re a great side.”
Ribas, who has been in charge since 2018, has assimilated a new generation of players into his squad, but has retained vast experience with defender Roy Chipolina, 40, and 41-year-old striker Lee Casciaro starting against France and 37-year-old Scott Wiseman, who enjoyed a 13-year career in English league football, coming off the bench.
Asked how important that experience to his team, the Uruguayan said: “It’s obviously very important.
“We’ve got 23 players – some who are unfortunately not with the squad now – some of whom have played right through from Under-17s level, and of course it’s very important to have these very experienced players who have been through a lot with Gibraltar.
“We’ve only been admitted to UEFA very recently and it’s great that these young players have that experience to help them. We believe with that, they will grow.”