15-June Switzerland (5pm GMT Brasilia)
20-June Honduras (11pm GMT Curitiba)
25-June France (9pm GMT Rio de Janeiro)
Ecuador surprised many onlookers as they booked themselves an automatic ticket to Brazil. It will be their third appearance at the World Cup in the last 12 years. Frank Tigani writes.
Coach: Reinaldo Rueda
Reinaldo Rueda never made it as a player and as a Coach he failed to make it a club level. But, on the international scene, he has enjoyed remarkable success. Back in 2003 he guided Columbia’s Under-20 side to their first appearance at the U-20 World Cup in a decade and all the way to the semi-finals. More recently, he took unfancied Honduras to the World Cup in 2010 and was granted honorary Honduran citizenship.
Why they could be dangerous
Blessed with some exciting attacking players, going forward Ecuador could cause some real trouble to opposing defences. Antonio Valencia’s threat down the right wing coupled with Jefferson Montero on the opposite side mean Ecuador will be a handful. If Valencia and Montero hit their stride, Felipe Caicedo will be the one likely to benefit most. A tall and powerful striker, he is a real danger in the air.
The world on his shoulders: Antonio Valencia
By far Ecuador’s most accomplished and recognizable player, the Manchester United winger’s experience and leadership will be key to his nation’s chances of having a successful summer. Though he can hit hot and cold, at 28-years-old Valencia is in his prime and given the fact that the World Cup is in South America, he will see this as his golden chance to make national history.
Did you know?
Ecuador qualified automatically as the fourth-placed side in CONMEBOL. Yet, what will concern their fans is their ability to perform away from home. At home in Quito where the altitude is very high, they won six of seven games. Yet, away from home they managed to secure just two points.
Country legend: Ivan Hurtado
A top class defender in his time, Ivan Hurtado was considered a composed and elegant stopper. He led his country from the back for almost two decades and after impressing as a 17-year-old at the 2002 World Cup – becoming the youngest player ever to star for Ecuador in the process – he went on to captain his country in Germany four years later. He retired in 2010 with 167 international caps to his name, a record that will stand for a long time to come.
Ecuador rely heavily on their two star wingers, Antonio Valencia and Jefferson Montero. They like to play with the ball and while they can be attractive to watch, their play can be a bit predictable as they often look to spread the ball wide when going forward. Coach Reinaldo Rueda employs such an approach as it plays to his team’s strengths and covers their weaknesses in defence.
…France P1 W0 D0 L1 F0 A2
…Switzerland P0 W0 D0 L0 F0 A0
…Honduras P7 W2 D4 L1 F9 A7
Population: 15.2 million
World Cup appearances: 2
Best finish: Round of 16, 2006
Famous for: Ecuador are famous for being just one of three South American nations – Chile and Venezuela the other two – never to win the Copa America.
Top Division: Ecuadorian Serie A
How they got to the World Cup: Finished fourth in CONMEBOL
FIFA World Ranking: 28
Last World Cup Appearance: Germany 2006 – eliminated by England
Continental Honours: –
Most Capped Player: Ivan Hurtado (167 caps)
Leading International Scorer: Agustin Delgado (31 goals)
Nickname: La Tri – Tricolour