This morning much of Ecuador woke up to the news that their Government had granted asylum to Julian Assange, the founder of the whistle-blowing website Wikileaks. The Australian has been holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for two months claiming to be the victim of a political witch hunt and unwarranted persecution.
By the end of today they will probably be burning Union Jacks (the same ones the British Embassy were handing out in Olympic based stunts last month) and shredding pictures of David Beckham and Mr Bean on the streets of Quito as the local populace are revved into a state of national hysteria by the partisan media sources.
Either that or the Ecuadorians will probably realise it is another diplomatic storm in a teacup and pay it the little attention that it deserves.
For those of the proper persuasion and less susceptible to media propaganda and provocation the real news will be Ecuador’s fine 3 – 0 win over Chile in yesterday’s friendly international.
The game was played in Citi Field, New York home of the famous baseball team, the New York Mets. A mainly Ecuadorian crowd of 31,901 braved the torrential rain to cheer on their idols and watch Narciso Mina, Jaime Ayovi and Jefferson Montero score and record a fine win.
Chile fielded a depleted team with notable absentees being star midfielder Arturo Vidal (Juventus) and defender Osvaldo González (Universidad de Chile) but still with Alexis Sanchez (Barcelona) and Eduardo Vargas (Napoli) in their starting 11. As current leaders of the CONMEBAL World Cup qualification table they were favourites to win the match.
Ecuador fielded a strong side consisting mainly of Ecuadorian Serie A based players and their talisman and superstar Antonio Valencia (Manchester United). Cristain Noboa (Dynamo Moscow) was injured but Cristian Bentitez (Club America) started the game.
In reality the game was over before it had really started with Ecuador coming bursting out of the traps to take a 2-0 lead before 14 minutes had passed. With little deference to the “friendly” nature of the match “El Tri” decided to impose their athletic superiority from the outset and bullied the slighter Chileans.
As per usual Ecuador’s attacking impetus flowed through Antonio Valencia on the right wing. Twice in succession his runs were left unchecked leaving him to lay-on chances that were converted by Narciso Mina (10′) and Jaime Ayovi (14′). The goals were similar in nature: low slide rule passes to the centre of the box, leaving the Chilean defence slow and open and the goalkeeper Miguel Pinto helpless.
The Ecuadorians continued to attack for the remainder of the half and they missed several chances to seal the win with a conclusive 3rd goal. At times the play reached boiling point with late challenges and sliding tackles aplenty on the wet and slippery pitch.
As the rain abated in the 2nd half Chile came more into the game but it was Ecuador who sealed the win in 68 minutes through Jefferson Montero (Morelia, MX). Ecuador’s keeper Dominguez thumped a high ball over every player into the Chilean box confusing the Chilean defence into inaction. The ball bounced to Montero who easily headed over a scrambling Pinto, ending the game as a contest.
The win is a fine confidence booster for Ecuador going into their qualifiers next against Bolivia at home then Uruguay away. Lying in 4rth position Ecuador need to pick up points if they have any realistic pretensions of attending Brazil 2014, a fact which is not lost on national coach Reinalda Rueda who said post- match:
“The team was loose, they were confident; I hope we can repeat this performance when it’s worth three points.”
In this week’s Copa Sudamericana match Liga de Loja ensured their passage into the next round with a 4 -2 home win against Monagas of Venezuela. Protecting a 0 – 2 lead from the 1st leg Liga needed only to avert disaster and quickly put Monagas to the sword courtesy of a Carlos Feraud strike in between another Fabio Renato hat-trick.
Deportivo Quito and Emelec continue their Sudamericana adventure next Wednesday.
I was up in Tena last weekend, deep into the jungle and far from any internet connection. The big Guayaquil derby was won by Barcelona to preserve their lead of the table. At the bottom of the table Deportivo Quito again failed to record their first win leaving them rooted to the bottom for a 5th consecutive week. Liga again were beaten and Independiente hammered by Macara. The rest of the games were uninspiring draws leaving the table largely unchanged.
Deportivo Cuenca 0 – 0 Deportivo Quito
Liga de Loja 1 – 2 Manta F.C.
Técnico Universitario 0 – 0 Liga de Quito
El Nacional 1 – 1 Olmedo
Independiente 0 – 3 Macará
Emelec 1 – 2 BarcelonaP Won D L Pts GD Barcelona 6 4 2 0 14 +7 Manta 6 4 1 1 13 +5 Macará 6 4 0 2 12 +2 Liga 6 2 4 0 10 +2 Emelec 6 3 1 2 10 0 Olmedo 6 2 3 1 9 +3 El Nac 6 1 4 1 7 +2 Dep Cu 6 1 2 3 5 -4 Indepe 6 1 1 4 4 -4 Loja 6 1 1 4 4 -5 Técnico 6 0 4 2 4 -5 Quito 6 0 3 3 3 -3
Again this week there is a full complement of fixtures in Serie A but I will be venturing north to the home of Aucas in the 3rd division on Sunday. Much like Rangers at home Aucas are a fallen giant who have tumbled down the leagues. Traditionally they attract the support of the lower classes of Quito and are the historical rivals of city giants Liga. The Aucas supporters claim to be the most passionate in Ecuador and I will judge for myself on Sunday versus Pilahuin Tio.
This weekend’s Serie A fixtures.
Macará vs Emelec
Olmedo vs Independiente del Valle
Liga de Quito vs Deportivo Cuenca
Dep Quito vs Liga de Loja
Manta F.C. vs El Nacional
Barcelona vs Técnico Universitario