True to form Sixto Vizuete was given the heave-ho today after barely 6 months in charge of El Nacional.
To be fair he can have little complaint as his team have been consistently awful under his charge and are in serious threat of being one of the two teams relegated from the Serie A.
El Nacional is the army team of Ecuador and similar Athletic Bilboa and Chivas Guadalajara they only pick players from their respective countries/states. Obviously the suits upstairs have panicked after the latest defeat and opted to bring a fresh face.
They have pinched Gustavo Luis Soler from Deportivo Quito, an Argentinian with a solid playing career in Spain and Argentina behind him and a slew of coaching positions around South America.
His task will be to keep El Nacional in the top division and avoid disastrous relegation/
Yesterday I paid ten extra dollars to watch the Quito derby from the “Palco” section of the Atahaulpa. The reason was two fold: the ability to sit undercover and so avoid the 5-8 pm daily downpour and also to experience the “behind the bench” fans.
Typically, it didn’t rain a drop so my $10 was wasted in the first respect (on Sunday I saved my money but third degree burns to my knees, arms and face) but the fan entertainment was hilarious and strangely familiar.
The Palco section is usually half-filled with various club officials,tracksuit suited staff, players wives and businessmen but the real characters are the old Waldorf and Stadler like pundits eager to offer advice and abuse with gusto.
In front of me were a group of silver haired darlings either giggling at their own jokes or roaring expletives at their players.
Now my Spanish is by no means fluent but even a beginner could decipher and understand the general “craic” and this was because the behaviour and language (but in Espanol) is exactly the same as in Scotland.
The last game I a went to in Scotland before leaving was St Johnstone vs Rangers in the McDiarmid Stadium, Perth. Thinking the game would be a sell-out I bought my tickets 3 days before so not to be disappointed. As a result I got tickets for the main stand, just behind the dug-outs, right among the local heroes.
For 90 minutes I had to listen to a selection of bawling donkeys, droning on to the Saints manager, Steve Lomas and because of the proximity of fans to dugout these aged experts were clearly in Lomas’s earshot. In the end Lomas actually responded, only encouraging the muppets. It wouldn’t of been too bad if the various shouts were witty or funny but it was just noise. Like a farmer shouting at his cows.
It was similar in the Atahaulpa last night but two things were different:
Firstly, as the dug-outs are separated by an “Olympic running track, long jump pit and 10 metres of concrete from the fans unless you have the roar of a lion the managers will never hear you. As result any pleas or offers of advice are totally futile. Dog barking at the moon.
Second, the abuse leveled at the players or management is much stronger and un-pc than back home. The cries of “Chuta Madre, Puta, hija de la chingada” etc(and not to mention the “negrito” chant) would get you arrested back home but in Ecuadorian games it’s quite the norm.
Because the Palco area is mixed part of the stadium their was choice banter exchanged between the fans, sometimes only rows apart. Surprisingly neither side took the bait nor rose to the occasion. Several times the old geezers openly berated and mocked much younger fans behind them.
Maybe alike Scotland the younger fans accepted their seniors were merely old, loud mouths quite entitled to their opinions and not worth the hassle.
Much the same opinion I have of the old bawlers back home.
After watching Celtic’s historic defeat of Barcelona on TV the Quito derby was always going to be an anti-climax. The atmosphere in Celtic Park couldn’t have been more different from Ecuador’s national stadium.
The Deportivo Quito’s supporters outnumbered the Nacional” hinchas” by at least double but both of the hardcore members were making a suitable racket under their banners and flags.The match had been re-arranged from week 9 due to Deportivo’s participation in the Copa Sudamericana and the World Cup qualifiers. A 6 o’clock Wednesday start was never going to attract a big crowd, especially considering the from of both teams but as I took my seat in the “Palco” section (i was expecting the customary 6 o’clock downpour) I watched a few thousand began to file their way in.
As both teams play their home games in the Atahaulpa Stadium there was no real advantage for either team.
Alike many Latin American stadiums the players and coaching staff appear from below the pitch-side and move to their respective technical areas.
Coaches and managers in Ecuador change like the weather. Sometimes it’s difficult to keep apace, especially when 3-4 months seems to be the average managerial term and tonight’s men were no different.
Deportivo Quito’s coach is former Argentinian national player (5 caps), Ruben Insua who replaced Nelson Acosta in August. After a solid playing career in Argentina and Ecuador (Barcelona) Insua has taken coaching jobs around Latin America enjoying Serie A success with Barcelona and Deportivo and a Copa Sudamericana with San Lorenzo of Argentina.
El Nacional have former Ecuadorian national coach, Sixto Vizuete currently in charge. After an inauspicious playing career Vizuete rose to the national team job through the youth teams in more of an academic Jose Mourinho/ Gerard Houllier fashion.
Tonight Insua was decked out in a smart suit and long Italian style coat. Together with a long main of hair he looked like a cross between David Coverdale and Benedict Cumberbatch. Sixto however had a standard tracksuit and coach jacket combo, more in the style of Paul Lambert or Martin O’Neill.
The game started at a snail’s pace and didn’t let up for the whole 90 minutes. Quito largely controlled the match in the first half through Luis Saritama and Santiago Morales in midfield. Julio Bevacqua was at his mercurial best and attracting the ire of the Quito support after several fluffed chances while Paredes was as normal dynamic but his final ball was consistently poor.
El Nacional fared no better and seemed content to try long shots from far outside the area which usually sailed high into the stars. In 33rd minute Nacional conjured up the first good chance of the match when Dennis Quinonez crossed onto Flavio Caicedo’s head but goalkeeper, Bone did well to tip the ball round the post.
The game then got bogged down in midfield with petty fouls and pseudo-injuries slowing play down. In the 46th minute Bevacqua rose just outside the 6 year the like a salmon to head into the keepers hands. Needless to say his fans were neither impressed nor surprised.
As the match sneaked towards half-time Morales produced a wonderful piece of skill and set up the opening goal. On the left wing and under the attention of two defenders he back-heeled a through ball to the on-running Luis Congo who then smashed the ball past high into the net from the edge of the box. The fans cried “goallazo”and rightly so. It was a fine moment to round up a rotten first half.
El Nacional were out on the pitch 5 minutes before their Quito obviously with a bollocking from Sixto still in their ear and they began the half with greater intensity. The short length of the Atahaulpa pitch means goal keeper kicks stretch far into the opposition half and this can quickly converts defence into attack. A hefty Danny Cabezas boot did exactly this 5 minutes in laying on Pita who only blasted wide.
For the first 15 minutes Quito seemed happy to sit deep and invite Nacional onto them,( a dangerous ploy which has bitten them on the arse many times this season). At times their crowding of attackers and last ditch clearances were manic and tempted disaster but there was method in their madness as two of their counter attacks produced good chances where only the Nacional woodwork prevented a doubling of their lead.
Twice in 5 minutes Edmund Zura was through on goal with only with only the keeper to beat. Luckily Bone was quick off his line to narrow the angle and smother the fierce shots.
In injury time again Zura was put through but this time he chose to dive and claim a penalty. There was much confusion as the linesman waved for the penalty but the referee then overruled and waved away the protests of the Nacional players. In the end Quito ran out close but deserved winners.
The result little effects either of the teams position in the table, both have had dreadful seasons although relegation is not a real threat points are accumulated and totaled over two terms.
|4.||Liga de Quito||17||6||8||3||26||+3|
|9.||Independiente del Valle||16||5||4||7||19||-6|
|12.||Liga de Loja||17||3||5||9||14||-6|
The Estadio Olimipico Atahaulpa has seen better days and more than deserving of a lick of paint and a general spruce up. If its character you want then Ecuador’s national stadium has it in spades but if its comfort and safety then your better to head to the Casa Blanca, home of Liga de Quito.
I have only been in the Atahaulpa once when it has been full, and i mean full to bursting point. Usually it’s league inhabitants: Deportivo Quito, El Nacional and Universidad Catolica barely attract a 3rd of the stadium.
In July’s World Cup qualifier versus Colombia there was not a free seat in the house. Thousands more than the official capacity of 40,948 were rammed into the crumbling old amphitheater and with hundreds of people sitting on the stairwells and down the aisles it was dangerous in the extreme. Also with a deep pit below and between the fans and pitch it was not hard to imagine the possibility of disaster.
That being said the atmosphere was amazing even when purchasing a beer or visiting the toilet entailed a slalom course of hell. It was probably as close as you can get to 1980’s British match experience. The likes of which we will never see or feel again.
The stadium was opened in 1951 and it’s hard to believe it has changed much in the years since. It is a big concrete block of a structure which looks like the home of a Soviet Bloc team or nation. Unless you pay extra for the covered Palcos area you will be left open to the weather, its beating sun or sometimes torrential rain and similarly the Palcos/Tribuna are is the only place with seats.
When you are paying only $6-7 dollars for a normal match-day ticket a seat could be viewed as a luxury but at $25 for the international matches it is the least you could expect. With this in mind the Ecuadorian Football Federation has decided to seat the whole of the stadium at the cost of $17 million.
The refurbishment will decrease the overall capacity but as the security at capacity games seems to be lax in the extreme it will likely not make a difference.
However as the Ecuadorian Football federation invest in their national stadium they also face the possibility of losing two of their main tenants. Both El Nacional and Deportivo Quito have released plans for their new stadiums and while these have been protracted ambitions it seems they have real pretensions to fly from the national nest.
While Deportivo Quito’s plans have been on going for a a few years El Nacional have taken the next step and rewarded the construction contract to a Mexican company. Both teams however will be hoping a change of venue will inspire their teams into an unprecedented era of success alike their city neighbours Liga de Quito who went on to win the Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana post flit.
It was my intention to get up to Sangloqui, home of Independiente Jose Teran on Sunday. However because the bus journey back to Quito takes over an hour I would have missed the European Championship final at 1.45.
As a result it was to be visit to the Atahaulpa Stadium to watch El Nacional vs Liga de Loja.
Along with Barcelona, El Nacional are the most successful team in Ecuadorian football with 13 Serie A titles and have represented Ecuador in the Copa Libertadores a record 22 times. They are administered by the Military and alike Chivas Guadalajara of Mexico and Atletic Bilboa of Spain they only play nationally born footballers giving the nickname of Puros Criollos or the Pure Natives.
This term El Nacional have been fairly dreadful and before yesterday’s game they were languishing in 7th position (last year they finished 3rd behind Emelec and Deportivo Quito) , far off the pace but ahead of city rivals Deportivo Quito. They were coming off a 2-1 home defeat to current leaders Independiente last week and needed to salvage at least a point against Loja.
Liga Deportiva Universitaria de Loja or simply Liga de Loja come from the southern based city of Loja and have the nickname of La Garra del Oso or The Bear Claw in English.
Despite only being promoted in 2010 Loja have surpassed all expectations this term and sat in 2nd position before yesterday’s game.This is a major achievement considering their relative wealth and a capacity stadium of only 15,000. Last week they secured a credible home 0-0 draw to Barcelona and were looking to pressurise fellow “minnows” and leaders Independiente.
Although I got to the stadium 5 minutes late I could have waited till half time and still not missed anything. Barely a shot was mustered nor chance created leaving both goalkeepers largely untroubled. A paltry crowd of 3,000 did their best to rouse the teams but in general it was another sedate affair. The Loja fans filled the far right hand corner and were more voluble and greeted their team with the obligatory shower of toilet rolls after the break.
Both teams started the 2nd half with a greater intensity and Loja were denied the opener when Renato burst down the middle straight from the kick off but was scythed down mid shot. Nacional immediately responded with neat build up play down the left hand side through Caicedo and Pita but the final cross sailed over the crossbar.
The Loja goal-keeper, Fernando Fernandez managed to hurt his foot while scrambling for a cross which delayed the proceedings for 4-5 minutes. It was hard to see how he hurt his foot but if I learned one thing form Ecuadorian football it is the players never need a 2nd opportunity to go down and receive medical treatment.When Fernandez finally recovered he spread a beautiful ball down the left wing to an on-running Jonny Uchuari who skipped past a defender and crossed for Renato, who volley home from 5 yards in 53 minutes..
The goal sparked the match into life. Almost immediately Nacional raced up field and attacked the Loja goal. A defected cross found Marcos Caicedo at the edge of the box and he smashed the ball past the helpless Fernandez to bring back parity.
From then on Loja really started to take control of the match.Time and time again the Nacional defenders were slow to react and lax in their marking. Despite towering above the little Brazilian, Renato the Nacional defence were unable to cope with his incisive runs and bursts of speed. The Nacional right back, was suffering a torrid time from tormentor in chief Uchuari who was skipping past challenges and laying on chances for attacking partner.
In 60 minutes Renato doubled his tally when he met a simple through ball high and down the middle. He had time to control the ball but instead chose to a dive and head past the marooned Danny Cabezas.
Nacional tried to rally but seemed bereft of ideas and lacking in attacking options.Their main attacker, Anangonó was full of running but in all the wrong directions and his first touch was at times horrific. The Loja defence easily marshaled any Nacional threat and resolutely blocked any long range efforts.
Renato wrapped up the game and an impressive hat-trick on 73 minutes again from a pass down the middle. He collected the ball with one touch then dispatched it past Cabezas with the next, giving no time for the keeper to react. It was the best goal of the three and deservedly secured Loja’s victory.
The win continues Loja’s unlikely championship challenge at moves them up to 2nd position behind Barcelona while Nacional’s loss sees them tumble 9th or 4rth bottom.