World Cup Profile: Ecuador

News

The focus is on Group E today, and having already looked at European representatives France, we now turn to their South American counterparts Ecuador.

READ: World Cup Profile: France

A solid qualifying campaign saw Ecuador avoid the South American play-offs and automatically qualify for this year’s World Cup, ending up in fourth place in their conference. Participating in just their third-ever World Cup, Ecuador will be cautiously optimistic of progressing from a less-than-easy group in their continent’s Mundial.

Qualification: W 7, D 4, L 5

Previous World Cup appearances: 2

Best World Cup finish: Round of 16 (2006)

Current FIFA ranking: 26

Coach: Reinaldo Rueda earned his stripes coaching the Colombian youth teams, leading the U20 side to third place at the 2003 World Cup, and the U17s to a fourth place finish in the U17 World Cup. Rueda was the coach of Honduras at the World Cup in 2010, but stepped down having been widely criticised after his side failed to progress from the group stages. He will definitely hope to go further in Brazil.

Captain and Key Player: Ecuador wide-man Antonio Valencia will be his country’s star-man as they look to progress further than their Round of 16 finish in the 2006 edition, having not qualified for the South African edition four years ago.

The Manchester United winger, who joined the Premier League side five years ago, is a strong and hard-working player for both club and country. He is deployed predominantly as a right-winger, blessed with an abundance of pace and a direct approach which has foiled opposing defenders for years.

Valencia has been widely praised for the quality of the crosses he hits into the box, but has equally been criticised for often complicating things and not delivering the ball early enough. Yet his speed and athleticism, as well as his ability to help out his side defensively, makes the 28-year-old a valuable member of any squad.

The midfielder made a dream start to his international career, bagging a brace on his debut against Paraguay in 2005. He featured in all four matches for his country at the 2006 World Cup, and was short-listed for FIFA’s Best Young Player of the Tournament award.

Valencia played in all but one of Ecuador’s 16 qualifying matches for this year’s World showpiece, as the South American nation finished fourth in their conference, thereby directly qualifying for Brazil 2014. Valencia’s experience at international level will be key as Ecuador hope to spring a surprise at this year’s event.

Check out the full Ecuador squad on KickOff.com’s all-new World Cup site.

Key fixture: All three points against Honduras is a must should Ecuador harbour any hope of progressing to the knockout stages of the tournament.

All fixtures

15 June, 18:00          Switzerland vs Ecuador

21 June, 00:00          Honduras vs Ecuador

25 June, 22:00          Ecuador vs France

Don’t miss the current edition of KICKOFF magazine for 16 pages of World Cup analysis, plus TWO World Cup wall charts, so you can follow every game of the world showpiece. 

Be sure to continue logging on to KickOff.com for profiles and news on all the teams at this year’s FIFA World Cup, as well as daily insights into up-and-coming stars in this year’s tournament.

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