Ecuador may go into double header without Valencia

Ecuador may go into Friday’s qualifier against Chile without their only true superstar and talisman, Antonio Valencia. The Manchester United winger is carrying an injury and it will be last minute race for his inclusion.

It’s hard to over-emphasis the dependency of Ecuador upon Valencia. Most of the national teams attacking play flow down the right wing and with Valencia’s bombing runs or link up play with Juan Carlos Paredes.

In last month’s qualifier, Bolivia doubled upped on Valencia neutralising his effect upon the game and it was a ploy that nearly got them a point. Chile should be more adventurous but still mindful of the Valencia effect.

Ecuador 4-4-2 football formation

 

Luckily “El Tri” has a relative amount of depth in their squad and Vitesse Arnhem’s; Renato Ibarra may be called upon to fill the void. Added to this Christian Noboa will return after suspension and livewire, Jefferson Montero comes back after pulling his hamstring versus Bolivia.

Ecuador is strong in midfield. Luis Saritama is a cultured “centro-campista” who has the ability to link midfield to attack well and spray incisive passes down the sides. Personally I feel he is underrated and overlooked.

Similarly Segundo Castillo and Oswaldo Minda are competent midfielders with experience abroad.

In attack Ecuador also have genuine quality. Christian Benitez is currently banging them in in Mexico for giants Club America. Hardly a week goes by without him claiming a goal in a strong national league. Although not tall by European standards Benitez has great strength and blistering speed.

In all likelihood he will be partnered by Felipe Caicedo, once of Manchester City. After a brief hiatus from the national team Caicedo has returned to claim two goals in the last two games: both penalties against Bolivia then Uruguay. The Barcelona partnership of Michael Arroyo and Narciso Mina should provide back up in attrack.

Ecuador’s one other injury problem is centre half Jairo Campo who has severely torn his Achilles and will sit out all football for at least two months. His omission is a blow for Ecuador as he is a dominant leader in defence but Jorge Guagua or Friksen Arazo should ably deputise for the games against Chile and Venezeula.

 

 Jairo Campos

Deportivo Quito continue their impressive run

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DEPORTIVO VS MACARA

Someone, in their wisdom decided to have this week’s game on Friday afternoon at 12pm. The result was a crowd of barely 2,000 even with tickets slashed to encourage attendance. Luckily I finished my classes at 11.40 so I walked 5 minutes over to the stadium to take in the matinee performance.

The rotund, old woman that sells the tickets outside was offering $2 Tribunas or $3 populars but as she tried to force them into my hand I noticed the $10 Palco VIP tickets underneath. I was feeling flush so decided to invest and walked into the mouth of the stadium and up the stairs.

After choosing the wrong stand entrance I was ushered higher and higher until I reached the various boxes and executives suites, all of which were a far cry from the luxury of the EPL or even SPL. I do not want to appear snobby because I know Ecuador does not have the wealth of Europe but the countries footballing organisations generate enough funds from a fervent supporter base to reinvest in what is the national stadium.

Only last month the national team attracted well over 40,000 for their World Cup qualifier versus Colombia and with tickets a minimum of $25 it’s clear that the money is there.

The Atahualpa Stadium was officially in 1951 and I doubt much has been done to it since. Despite this the stadium engenders charm and reminds me of old pictures of Hampden Park with its one single covered stand and the rest open to the beating sun.

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It’s clear the stadium is steeped in history with its many marble plaques commemorating teams and players of old but it wouldn’t take much to improve its dilapidated and run down appearance.

The palco VIP box was empty and soulless and with a huge dirty, glass screen hampering vision and deafening the sound of the match so totally useless for a proper match experience. So I trundled back down the stairs and asked to be allowed into the cheaper seats with my over-invested ticket. Lesson learned.

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Macara or Club Social y Deportivo Macará are based in the central city of Ambato and share their stadium with Club Deportivo Técnico Universitario also of Serie A. Known as El Idolo de Ambato (The Idol of Ambato) or Celestes (Sky blues), because of their the shirts, Macara were promoted to the first tier last year after finishing runner-up in Serie B.

Previously their golden period was in the 1980’s when they had several South American stars. Despite this they never managed to win any trophies.

Before today’s game Macara lay in 10th position with 21 points, 3 ahead of their city rivals while Deportivo Quito, after an indifferent start had recently climbed to 7th.

Deportivo started the match by far the brighter with captain,Luis Saritama dominating the midfield and linking up well with Danny Luna. In the opening period both teams had half chances but it was the home side that capitalised on their early dominance by taking the lead on 15 minutes. Congo did well to run down an over-hit pass deep into Macara’s half then cut back a neat ball to Luna at the edge of the box. Instead of shooting form distance Luna dummied the ball to his captain who controlled the ball then placed a beautiful long range shot past a helpless Christian Mora. It was an excellent strike from Saritama and indicative of his current form and confidence.

Macara almost secured parity barely a minute later when their striker, Rodriguez was put through on goal but he ballooned his shot far over the crossbar. The game then got bogged down in midfield for a spell with stray passes and tackles limiting chances. Although Quito were creating the better opportunities, Julio Bevacqua as centre forward was looking slow and cumbersome with his poor first touch spoiling chances to shoot.

Quito doubled their lead in 28 minutes again through Luis Saritama. He dribbled into the box then played a short pass to Folleco who then shimmied past two defenders and smashed the ball high into the Macara net. It was deserved on the balance of play and put Quito firmly in control of the match. Despite this Macara continued to threaten and only some fine acrobatic saves from Adrian Bone denied the sky blues their needed goal. At half time Quito were in command but needed a 3rd to finish the game.

Macara started the 2nd half with a greater intensity and started to pepper the Quito goal with many shots and crosses. Luckily Bone was in fine form and commanded his box when his defenders looked sluggish and lackadaisical. On several occasions the Quito keeper was quick to leave his lines and smother the ball or run down shots. After one such block Quito raced up field to score and end the game as a competition.

This time Folleco turned provider with a high cross to Bevacqua who headed down into the goal. At first it seemed as if Mora had saved but he couldn’t prevent the ball from slipping over the line.

At 3 – 0 Quito could afford the opportunity to try out the young Jose Miguel Andrade who impressed in the last 20 minutes but was denied a goal first by the woodwork then by an awful offside decision.

In the end Deportivo Quito ran out comfortable winners thanks largely to their captain Luis Saritama and some impressive goalkeeping with Adrian Bone.

The win boosts Quito up into 5th position while Macara still linger 3rd from bottom.

Ecuador name their team to face Argentina

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Reinaldo Rueda has announced his starting 11 for tomorrow’s World Cup qualifier against Argentina in Buenos Aires.

In defence Rueda has opted for the inexperienced trio of Gabriel Achilier, Jorge Guagua and Jayro Campos who have only 17 caps between them. In addition to this the goalkeeper, Alexander Domínguez also has only 2 international caps. The coach will be hoping that veteran Walter Ayovi is calming influence in the expected barrages of attack.

Ecuador’s real strength is in midfield and the creative influence and pace of Antonio Valencia and Christian Noboa, both of which have had impressive seasons in Europe.

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Goal scoring opportunities may be at a premium in the La Bombonera but luckily Ecuador have striker who is on fire at present. Christain “Chuco”Benitez has been a prolific goal scorer in Mexico’s Primera División for the past few years. Birmingham fans may not share this opinion but a tally of 73 goals 126 matches, in a competitive league holds up to scrutiny.

 

 

Alexander Domínguez (LDU Quito)

Jairo Campos (Barcelona/Ecua)       Jorge Guagua (Atlante/MX)

Gabriel Achilier (Emelec)   Walter Ayoví (Monterrey)

                                               

Segundo Alejandro Castillo (Pachuca)

        Christian Noboa (Dynamo Kiev)  

            Luis Fernando Saritama(Deportivo Quito)

Luis Antonio Valencia (Man Utd)        

                                                                                                               Jefferson Montero   (Real Betis)  

                                       Christian Benítez (Club America)

 

Tomorrow’s game will be Ecuador’s biggest test yet in the qualification campaign. As underdogs and facing an array of recognised superstars a draw in Buenos Aires would be considered a major triumph.

Bolivia managed to capture a 1-1 draw last November but it seems as if, with his more daring line-up Rueda expects more than to simply “park the bus”.