Ecuador: Pending TaskBy: Juan Mesa
Ecuador made its third World Cup appearance in Brazil 2014, but had a disappointing run: they were the only CONMEBOL team that didn’t advance to the Round of 16. After that, they’re attempting an overhaul with new Argentine coach Gustavo Quinteros. Their first mission? To beat Chile, Mexico and Bolivia in Group A of the Copa América, a tournament they’ve never won.
BIGGEST STRENGTH: Ecuador arrives to the Copa América with two English Premier League attackers, Jefferson Montero (Swansea City) and Enner Valencia (West Ham), players who can be a frightening prospect for any rival. (Antonio Valencia, a third Premier League attacker, was recently removed from the roster due to an untimely surgery.)
BIGGEST WEAKNESS: Ecuador’s defense has been the headache of fans for a while. Players in the back line have good size but slow reaction, a combination that often ends up costing them games. This deficiency might explain the hiring of Quinteros, a former central back defender in Argentina and Bolivia.
COPA AMÉRICA CHANCES: This tournament has never been good to Ecuador save for two fourth places in 1959 and 1993. They haven’t passed the group stage since 1997, and they will need a little bit of luck and a perfect defense coordination to surpass group rivals Chile and Mexico this time.
FUN FACT YOU NEED TO KNOW: The top scorer in the Copa Libertadores—the South American club championship—is Ecuadorian Alberto Spencer who made his name playing for Uruguayan side Peñarol. In spite of playing only 11 games with Ecuador between 1959 and 1972, in which he scored four goals, Spencer is considered one of the best South American players of all time and the best Ecuadorian player in history.
IF THEY WERE A MOVIE, IT WOULD BE: Greenberg. A cheerless but talented team looking to find a purpose in the Copa América.