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Gibraltar’s Men’s National Team will play their crucial UEFA Nations League playoff double-header against Lithuania over the next week.

Lithuania will make the visit to the Estadio Algarve this evening, Thursday the 21st of March for the first leg, before the return fixture on Tuesday 26th of March in Kaunas.

This playoff will determine which of the two nations will remain in League C of the competition going into next season, with both nations finishing bottom of their respective groups in the 2022/23 edition of the competition.

Both Lithuania and Gibraltar finished their 2022/23 campaigns with one point on the board, picking up their points in 1-1 draws, Gibraltar gaining theirs at home to Bulgaria thanks to an unforgettable Liam Walker penalty.

 

Gibraltar Head Coach Julio Ribas has called up some fresh faces to his squad for the playoff matches, with James Scanlon, Liam Jessop, Tayler Carrington, Adam Achhoud and Kai Mauro all making their first appearances in a senior squad.

Scanlon and Bartolo were part of Gibraltar’s U21’s 2-1 victory against Moldova in the U21 UEFA Championship Qualifiers back in November, where Dylan Borge and Carrington’s goals secured a monumental victory away from home.

 

Scanlon has also scored four goals in nine appearances for Manchester United’s U18’s, his performances earning himself a call-up to Ribas’s squad. Bartolo, also currently plying his trade in England, has been prolific for Wealdstone FC’s academy, with the 18-year-old scoring all five goals in a thrilling 5-0 National League Cup win over Hollands & Blair back in January.

 

Lithuania’s Pijus Širvys will arguably be their ‘player to watch’ over these two fixtures, with the Maribor defender scoring three goals in seven games during Lithuania’s EURO 2024 Qualifying campaign.

Their manager, Edgaras Jankauskas, was the first-ever Lithuanian player to win the Champions League in 2004, lifting the trophy with FC Porto, the famous side then coached by Jose Mourinho. He also represented the Lithuanian national team as a player for almost 20 years.

Across his nearly 20-year career, he represented 16 different clubs; these included the likes of OGC Nice, Real Sociedad, Benfica, and even Hearts of Midlothian – scoring exactly 150 club goals. This alongside his ten for his country for a total of 160 career goals.