In 1930, Ecuador’s sports minister turned down an offer to compete at the initial Football World Cup. The squad was removed from qualification from the 1950 tournament and then unsuccessful to qualify from 1962 to 1998. But the national squad has turned things around, having qualified for four Football World Cup tournaments in the previous 20 years. Although they have nonstop to fight in their Football World Cup arrivals, they gained at minimum one game in all tournaments and found themselves in the round of 16 in 2006.
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A young squad
This year, the squad qualified for Qatar Football World Cup 2022 in style with five home victories and just one loss, plus imposing draws against Brazil and Argentina. Argentine coach Gustavo Alfaro, formerly of Buenos Aires super club Boca Juniors, will be watching for Ecuador’s strongest Football World Cup viewing to date despite damages to Joao Rojas and Robert Arboleda.
Veteran forward and head Enner Valencia, whose 35 goals is Ecuador’s uppermost tally, will be leading the charge well assisted by winger Angel Mena. And in support is an innovative generation of young players who have been building match skills across Europe, such as 20-year-old midfielder Moises Caicedo, who made his mark on the English Premier League with 19 arrivals for Brighton and Hove Albion.
Also keep an eye out at the back for Piero Hincapie, who has been getting much of match time at Bayer Leverkusen in the highest flight of German football. still, the player to view is 22-year-old Gonzalo Plata. A lot rests on the star winger, who returned to the field in October after difficulty with an ankle hurt.
But if it’s fireworks you’re watching for, expression no further than 35-year-old keeper Alexander Domínguez, who was able to get himself sent off during January’s game against Brazil with a flying kick into Matheus Cunha’s neck. Ecuador plays hosts Qatar in the opening match of this year’s tournament and is hopeful to spoil the host nation’s party with a win on the initial day.
With their present form, they’d be understandably disappointed to lose. The Netherlands is likely to dominate their group, but Senegal may offer Ecuador a chance to qualify for the round of 16 for only the second time. Ecuador has the youngest squad at the tournament except for the United States and is hopeful youthful excitement will triumph over knowledge. Ecuador may be the continent’s underdogs, but they still have many bites.
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Is Senegal ‘Africa’s best hope’ at Football World Cup?
This Football World Cup will be the 3rd that the Teranga Lions have qualified for, and their opening as reigning African champions. In malice of this, the West African nation lives in an almost individual spot. Only 3 squads from the continent have touched the previous eight at a Football World Cup, but Senegal touched that milestone in their first-ever arrival.
In 2002, they stunned the reigning world and European champions France and scored in all competitions but one en route to a quarter-final finish. Despite that rousing achievement, Senegal missed out on the following 3 versions, and 2022 marks their first-ever qualification for successive Football World Cups.
Disappointment in 2018
Aliou Cisse, captain of their great quest in 2002 and in the dugout for seven years today, will lead the Teranga Lions in a bid to put the dissatisfaction of 2018 behind them. In Russia, Senegal suits the initial team ever to be removed from the FIFA World Cup on the basis of fair play, a hard blow that defender Kalidou Koulibaly trusts they have knowledge from.
We will not make a similar fault another time,” the Chelsea center-back told Al Jazeera. In 2018 we could’ve completed improved, but things didn’t work out, and it’s a humiliation because we had a great generation of players. In Qatar, we will advantage of that 2018 skill.
‘Africa’s best hope’
They will also have the boost of pending in as African champions. Senegal away a while to assert themselves during the Africa Cup of Nations in January, production of heavy weather of a group that featured Malawi and Zimbabwe. However, they came into their own during the knockout rounds, and although they required many shootouts in the final to verify it, the Lions were deserving winners.
In addition to being Senegal’s first-ever taste of silverware, that success lent legitimacy to their present generation, as well as to Cisse’s work. And it cemented their standing as the continent’s best expectation of a deep run in Qatar. I think Senegal offers Africa’s best expectation; African football professional Mark Gleeson told Al Jazeera. I believe that they can get to the area, but it depends on who they have to play, of course, at the point of 16. I do realize them going through, and I think they’ll be the one African side to do so.”
That expectation is enhanced by the draw.
The Netherlands will make available a thorny challenge in the opening match, but the rest of Group A is made up of hosts Qatar, in their first Football World Cup arrival, and South America’s previous automatic qualifier, Ecuador. On the strength of together the Football rankings and the relative quality of their team, Senegal is the favorite to advance.
It’s working to be very tough but it’s a not built-up group,” Koulibaly admitted. “Qatar is playing at home-based; the Netherlands are a great football nation they have great players like Van Dijk, I played a lot against him and Ecuador showed that they deserved to be here.
Dual-time African football player of the year and Bayern Munich’s Sadio Mane is certainly the Teranga Lions’ main star. But in Edouard Mendy, Boulaye Dia, Ismaila Sarr, Idrissa Gueye, Abdou Diallo, and Cheikhou Kouyate, have players who have recognized themselves in Europe.
Since their title-successful effort in Cameroon, Senegal’s results have been underwhelming. They came through a dual-legged playoff against Egypt, but individually on fine after a 1-1 aggregate score, and they followed that up with a 3-1 achievement over 10-man Benin and a lean triumph via a 98th-minute penalty against Rwanda.
Results in pre-Football World Cup friendlies have also raised some concerns. A routine success over Bolivia was followed by a 1-1 draw with Iran, in which Senegal looked to lack fancy in the attack. That feeds into a wider concern. When Mane is shackled, it is often hard to tell where the chances are near-term.
In spite of those innovative shakes, Koulibaly leftovers bullish about Senegal’s prospects in Qatar, and says the squad has their eyes set on pushing the envelope at the Football World Cup. I don’t know approximately the additional African teams but as head of Senegal we are not going there to finish the normal ceiling of Africa, which is the quarter-finals,” he proclaims
I accept as true we can participate in the trophy like the other nations from dissimilar continents. We have no business at the Football World Cup if the idea is just to contribute and go home next to the group. That is such a defeatist mindset. If you go to battle thinking you are not good sufficient then you’ve already gone. Senegal is going to Qatar with the ambition to succeed and that is our mindset.
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