For its 4th World Cup, Ecuador has never seemed so well equipped before facing Qatar, the Netherlands and Senegal. The Tricolor is taking advantage of the good work started a few years ago by its local clubs to obtain a talented young generation, which is starting to be talked about in Europe and in MLS.
The qualification path:
Never titled in Copa America, Ecuador is rather one of the poor relations of the South American continent, traditionally dominated by Brazil and Argentina. These qualifiers for this 2022 World Cup have not escaped this. The two ogres flew over the classification. They didn’t even know defeat. The Tricolor a it finished 4th, behind Uruguay but showed great consistency. Unlike the Celeste, who achieved a huge final sprint (4 wins to conclude), the selection led by Gustavo Alfaro will have been in the right car almost from start to finish. With 3 victories in the first 4 games, including a 6-1 spanking against Colombia, Ecuador ends these qualifications with the 3rd defense and the 2nd attack, tied with Argentina. After 2002, 2006 and 2014, this will be the country’s 4th World Cup and will face in Group A, Qatar in the opening match, the Netherlands and Senegal. But the Tri almost lost its ticket obtained on the ground since it was the subject of a complaint from Chile after playing Byron Castillo, who would actually be of Colombian nationality. FIFA finally agreed with Ecuador.
The strengths and weaknesses
Ecuador is not the most brilliant nation of the teams qualified for this World Cup but it should not be taken from high either. Failing to have leading players, it is a coherent team, difficult to maneuver. She plays most of the time in 4-3-3 and likes to have possession. Moreover, with a few exceptions, she does not have large sizes in the team and relies instead on the technique and speed of her side players to attack. Weak point all the same, it must commit fewer faults in match. Proof that it is a whole country that is progressing, as evidenced by the good results of its clubs in the various continental cups, Gustavo Alfaro can be satisfied with having a larger reservoir and with a significant margin for progress. Most players of The Tricolor play in increasingly prestigious championships in Europe and North America. Moises Caicedo (20) and Pervis Estupinan (24) are important elements of Brighton, the left-back having even been the subject of a transfer to 17 M €, after reaching the semi-final of the Champions League with Villarreal. José Cifuentes (23) has been a Los Angeles FC manager for two years now and could well join Europe in the near future. A step that was already taken a year ago by central defender Piero Hincapié (20), holder at Bayer Leverkusen. Behind the veteran Enner Valencia (32 years old), the next generation is already there.
Coach: Gustavo Alfaro
A former midfielder with a modest career, Alfaro is an experienced coach. At 60, he has accumulated a great deal of experience, almost exclusively in Argentina. Despite a coaching career that began 30 years ago, he fell behind others in his country, leading only second-class teams, until Boca Juniors came to get him in 2019. The adventure will not be really conclusive, despite a victory in the Argentine Super Cup and overall satisfactory statistics. He is criticized for a lack of game identity. Upon his arrival, Alfaro relies on a group in the making, in addition to naturalizing a few players. Ecuador are becoming an interesting team because in addition to qualifying for the World Cup, they reach the quarter-finals of the 2021 Copa America, swept away by eventual winners Argentina, 3-0. Rather promising for the future since the Tri never did better than a semi-final in 1993.
The star: Enner Valencia
He is no longer very young, 32 years old, but is a boss and big brother in this young selection. Sometimes captain, the striker with 75 caps (34 goals) is preparing to play for the second world of his career. In 2014, he still scored three goals (against Switzerland and a double against Honduras) during a competition where his team was eliminated in the first round. Fernerbahçe player since 2020, the striker is more than that in great shape at the start of the season since he is already at 11 goals in 16 games in all competitions. The Ecuadorian captain, on the other hand, has not scored in the selection since last March.
The attraction: Moisés Caicedo
The midfielder is undoubtedly the best player in the selection for this World Cup. At only 20 years old, and from the top of his already 25 selections (2 goals), the native of Santo Domingo is experiencing an express ascent. Immediately spotted at Independiente del Valle where he became an essential starter in a few weeks, he was recruited by Brighton in 2021, which sent him on loan to familiarize himself with Europe on the Beerschot side in Antwerp. While the Belgian club is having an absolutely horrible season, Caicedo is doing well, so much so that the Seagulls repatriate him in January. This box-to-box profile is waiting for April to play its first match but imposes itself without flinching in the team of Graham Potter, who ultimately only regrets one thing. “For his return, it was about getting him started at the right time and in the right situation. Thinking about it now, I think I put it on too late (laughs). Despite the departure of his former coach for Chelsea, he is still the darling of the 7th in the Premier League, where he is an indispensable element.
The last list of September:**
- Guardians: Moisés Ramirez (Independiente del Valle), Gonzalo Volle (Guayaquil), Alexander Dominguez (LDU Quito) and Hernan Galindez (SD Aucas)
- Defenders: Piero Hincapié (Bayer Leverkusen), Jackson Porozo (Troyes), William Pacho (Antwerp), Xavier Arreaga (Seattle Sounders), Fernando Léon (Atlético de San Luis), Pervis Estupiñán (Brighton), Diego Palacios (Los Angeles FC), Bryon Castillon (Club Leon) and Angelo Preciado (Genk)
- Environments : Carlos Gruezo (Augsburg), Jhegson Mendez (Los Angeles FC), Patrickson Delgado (Ajax Amsterdam), Moisés Caicedo (Brighton), José Cifuentes (Los Angeles FC), Alan Franco (CA Talleres), Jeremy Sarmiento (Brighton) and Nilson Angulo (Anderlecht)
- Forwards: Romario Ibarra (Pachuca), Gonzalo Plata (Real Valladolid), Angel Mena (Club Léon), Anthony Valencia (Antwerp), Michael Estrada (Cruz Azul), Enner Valencia (Fenerbahçe) and Djorkaeff Reasco (Newell’s Old Boys)
** The final list has not yet been revealed.