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Ecuador is ready to shock fans at the World Cup

Despite their fantastic qualifying campaign, Ecuador isn’t getting the respect it deserves by fans around the world. Here is why that needs to change.

Ladies and gentlemen, Ecuador is back at the World Cup. Chile tried to stop them, but FIFA ruled correctly. 

The small South American nation had never qualified for the World Cup until 2002, but the tide has turned for them since the beginning of the 21st century. They now have qualified for four out of the last six World Cups, which is impressive considering just how tough CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers are. 

Not only did Ecuador qualify ahead of some bigger teams, but they did it in style as well. “La Tri” raised some eyebrows when they beat Uruguay 4-2 in the second matchday. But the biggest shock came a month later when they dismantled a stacked Colombia side 6-1 at home.


They also managed to draw with Brazil and Argentina, the two teams that are among heavy favorites to win the World Cup this year. 

Overall, Ecuador managed to finish in fourth place with 27 points from eighteen games. They scored 27 goals, which was tied for the second-most goals scored with Argentina, and conceded just nineteen, tied for the third-least amount of goals conceded in the standings. 

Ecuador has a lot of young talent

Ecuador may not have household names like Colombia and Chile. But what they do have is a strong core group of young, hungry, and talented players ready to set the world alight. 

Brighton & Hove Albion’s 20-year-old midfielder Moisés Caicedo has been stealing headlines because of his performances in the Premier League, while another 20-year-old Piero Hincapié is doing the same in the Bundesliga with Bayer Leverkusen. 24-year-old Pervis Estupiñán helped Villarreal win the Europa League in 2021 and reach the semifinals of the Champions League in 2022, and made the move to Brighton for a fresh challenge this summer.

Caicedo plays for Ecuador
Young star Moisés Caicedo (Photo credit: Getty Images)

But it’s not only the European club players that teams will have to watch out for. Ecuador also has plenty of talented youngsters on this side of the pond, such as Leonardo Campana, Djorkaeff Reasco, José Cifuentes, Alan Franco, Diego Palacios, and of course, the infamous Byron Castillo– who has been all over the news for the wrong reasons. 

With all these young guys, it’s not surprising that Ecuador has the second-youngest squad out of 32 teams going to the World Cup, with the average age of Ecuadorian players during the eighteen qualifying matches coming in at just 25.81. 

A manager who knows how to handle young players

An experienced Argentine manager Gustavo Alfaro has the task of controlling these young players and making sure they don’t crumble under pressure at the world’s biggest stage come November. 

Alfaro only took charge of the team in August 2020, when international football was on a long hiatus due to the COVID outbreak. He’s had to deal with challenges such as travel restrictions and health guidelines, but so far, he’s had the team firing with almost a 50% winning rate.

Alfaro manages Ecuador
Photo credit: FIFA

We can’t ignore some key senior players as well, who have been there for a long time and seen it all in Ecuadorian football. Current captain Enner Valencia is a former West Ham United man and the top scorer in the history of the national team with 35 goals. Other senior guys like Alexander Domínguez, Robert Arboleda, Ángel Mena, Romario Ibarra, Carlos Gruezo, and Hernán Galíndez will also be there to lead the young kids in Qatar.

The most disrespected team at the World Cup

Despite all these talented players and impressive performances, Ecuador gets no love outside of South America. Most fans are refusing to even entertain the idea of La Tri making out of their World Cup group, which contains The Netherlands, Senegal, and hosts Qatar.

Ecuadorians may not look as good on paper compared to the Dutch and the Senegalese. But we all know fútbol isn’t played on paper. Ecuador has shown what matters is how you play on the field.

Although they don’t have much of a chance to challenge for the cup, this is a team that can go deep into the tournament. Think of Colombia in 2014, who won the hearts of many fans with their entertaining fútbol. That can be Ecuador this year. 

One thing is for sure: We can’t wait to see Ecuador bringing its South American flavor to Qatar.