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Last Updated: Monday, 22 May 2006, 16:12 GMT 17:12 UK
Ecuador team guide
A one-stop guide to all you need to know about Ecuador ahead of the 2006 World Cup.

Fixtures (Group A):

  • v Poland - 9 June, 2000 BST, Gelsenkirchen
  • v Costa Rica - 15 June, 1400 BST, Hamburg
  • v Germany - 20 June, 1500 BST, Berlin

    How did they get to Germany: Made it with a game to spare and finished third in the group. Beat both Argentina and Brazil along the way, but all of their victories came at altitude, seven at home in Quito and one away to Bolivia.

    Qualifying star: Centre-half Geovanny Espinoza was the only player in South America to play in all 18 qualifiers. He holds the defence together, is commanding in the air and has shown great improvement on the ground.

    Manager: Luis Fernando Suarez - a Colombian, like his predecessor Hernan Dario Gomez, who took Ecuador to their historic first World Cup in 2002. Suarez took over after the 2004 Copa America and made a quick impression, discarding older players and rebuilding the team.

    Ivan Hurtado

    Captain: Ivan Hurtado is a cultured centre-back who seems to have been around for ages. Has nearly 130 caps to his name and is still only 31.

    World Cup pedigree: Not enough to fill a postcard. The 2002 finals were their debut and they were eliminated in the group phase.

    World Cup high: Beating Croatia in their final group game in 2002 - an excellent result against the team which had come third in the previous World Cup.

    World Cup low: Their baptism against Italy when they looked totally overawed in the first half hour and soon found themselves two goals down.

    World Cup legend: Gangling Agustin Delgado's goals got them through qualification in 2002, he scored their first World Cup goal and, although a bit lumbering these days, he was their joint top scorer in this campaign.

    Edison Mendez

    Present star man: Edison Mendez - who scored the winner against Croatia - is a quality midfielder with a vicious shot. High hopes also surround 20-year-old midfielder Luis Valencia, though has struggled to adapt at Villarreal.

    Strengths: A clear tactical approach. Ecuador have moved away from the tip-tap short passing through the middle style that characterized their game. Now they keep the middle tight and look to strike quickly down the flanks.

    Weaknesses: A lack of European experience - they've only ever played four full internationals in Europe. A defence that can be caught flat and, if Espinoza is taken out, is all over the place in the air and goalkeeping is problematic.

    Did you know? Ecuadorian football did not begin with the 2002 World Cup. They produced the all-time top scorer in the Copa Libertadores in 1960s legend Alberto Spencer, who mainly starred for Penarol of Uruguay. His surname is explained by the fact his father was Jamaican.

    World ranking: 39

    Odds: 400/1

    Local view: "We may still be a young side in terms of participating on the big stage, but now we've qualified in fine style for the second time running. We've been face to face with the mighty Brazil and Argentina and beaten both at home. Si se puede - yes, we can do it." Sandra Lopez, International relations, Ecuadorian Olympic Committee.

    Our verdict: Their aim is to do better than last time and make it into the second round. But with their lack of European experience it will need the best performance in their history.

    Ranking and odds correct at 22 May. Odds supplied by William Hill.


    Pick your Ecuador XI
    16 May 06 |  Squad selectors
    Country profile: Ecuador
    07 Oct 05 |  Country profiles


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