Factfile on Ecuador, who are in World Cup Group A:
Best World Cup performance: Last 16 in 2006.
Other notable performances: Fourth place at the Copa America in 1959 and 1993.
FIFA ranking: 44th.
Main clubs: LDU Quito, Barcelona, Emelec, Independiente del Valle.
How they qualified: Ecuador finished fourth in the single South American qualifying group to take the final automatic qualifying spot.
Coach: Gustavo Alfaro, 60, hails from Argentina but has been in charge of Ecuador since August 2020 when he replaced Jordi Cruyff. Alfaro had spent the best part of the previous three decades working at clubs in his native Argentina, lastly at Boca Juniors in 2019. His side held both Argentina and Brazil at home as they edged out Peru to take the last automatic spot for Qatar in the single South American qualifying group. However, Alfaro’s Ecuador also went out of the 2021 Copa America in the quarter-finals without winning a game. Alfaro, who had an unremarkable playing career, notably led modest Arsenal de Sarandi to the 2007 Copa Sudamericana title. Also had a brief spell coaching in Saudi Arabia.
Key player: Enner Valencia, who this month turns 33, is Ecuador’s captain and all-time top scorer with 35 goals. He is also a veteran of previous major tournaments, notably scoring all three of his country’s goals at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and appearing at four different editions of the Copa America. ‘Superman’ initially made his name at Emelec but later spent three years in the Premier League, first with West Ham United and then at Everton. After a spell in Mexico, he returned to Europe in 2020 to play for Fenerbahce. By the end of October he was the top scorer in this season’s Turkish Super Lig, with 11 goals in 10 games.
Expectations and key players according to Warriors of Ecuador:
“My expectations for Ecuador in the World Cup is to make it out of group stage! It would be amazing to see them play their second ever Round of 16 WC game. Hopefully this time they can advance!”
“Key players to watch out for on Ecuador would be Moises Caicedo, Piero Hincapie, Gonzalo Plata and Pervis Estupiñan.”
November 20: Qatar v Ecuador
November 25: Netherlands v Ecuador
November 29: Ecuador v Senegal
Goalkeepers: Hernan Galindez (Aucas), Moises Ramírez (Independiente del Valle), Alexander Dominguez (LDU Quito).
Defenders: Byron Castillo (Leon/MEX), Angelo Preciado (Genk/BEL), Luis Fernando Leon (San Luis/MEX), Jackson Porozo (Troyes/FRA), Piero Hincapie (Bayer Leverkusen/GER), Xavier Arreaga (Seattle Sounders/USA), Pervis Estupinan (Brighton and Hove Albion/ENG), Felix Torres (Santos Laguna/MEX).
Midfielders: Carlos Gruezo (Augsburg/GER), Jhegson Mendez (Los Angeles FC/USA), Moises Caicedo (Brighton and Hove Albion/ENG), Alan Franco (Talleres/ARG), Jose Cifuentes (Los Angeles FC/USA), Gonzalo Plata (Valladolid/ESP), Angel Mena (Leon/MEX), Anthony Valencia (Royal Antwerp/BEL), Jeremy Sarmiento (Brighton and Hove Albion/ENG), Romario Ibarra (Pachuca/MEX).
Forwards: Michael Estrada (Cruz Azul/MEX), Enner Valencia (Fenerbahce/TUR), Djorkaeff Reasco (Newell’s Old Boys/ARG), Ayrton Preciado (Santos Laguna/MEX).