DOHA ( Associated Press) — In a prelude to a World Cup decider against Senegal, Ecuador coach Gustavo Alfaro insisted the South American country can be satisfied with its national team, whether or not it continues to compete in Qatar.
“I am very satisfied with what these guys are doing and I said before the World Cup that this is a team that has more future than present,” he said. “That’s why I was not interested in the results. I was interested in attitude.”
After starting with a 2-0 win against Qatar and a 1-1 draw with the Netherlands that kept the Oranje on the ropes, Ecuador sent off the World Cup with a 2-1 loss to the African champions on Tuesday.
However, La Trie made a good impression in Qatar, where a group of young players added their first World Cup experience.
Ecuador had the fourth youngest team in this World Cup after Ghana, the United States and Spain, with an average age of 25.2.
“It’s a very young team that came to work and did quite well. And they came and learned”, highlighted Alex Aguinaga, Ecuador’s retired midfielder and World Cup player in Korea–Japan 2002.
“You have to be happy with this selection,” Aguinaga insisted. “And for the process of the next World Cup there are already players who have raised their hands and there are some who are not in the squad and will definitely be called by the coach who is there.”
Many of the players in Qatar’s line-up who make up the defensive line have done well in the first two games, and all of them are 25 or under, except for mistakes and carelessness in the loss against Senegal. Piero Hincapie (20), Pervis Estupinan (24) and Angelo Preciado (24).
The midfield includes Moises Caicedo (21), the scorer of one of the team’s four goals at the World Cup, and Jeganson Mendez (25). And on the winger in attack is Gonzalo Plata (22).
Except for Méndez, almost all of them are members of clubs in Europe.
Veteran goalkeeper Alexandre Dominguez declared after the loss, “A lot of people are proud of what this group did.” “It doesn’t end here, there are people who have more World Cups to play.”
Its great architect was Alfaro, who took over the rebuilding after taking over the reins of the Andean team in August 2020 amid the pandemic. Despite criticism and doubts in the process, the Argentine helmsman has managed to lead Ecuador back to their fourth World Cup after missing the previous one in Russia in 2018.
But while printing new blood, Alfaro also retained the leadership of several veterans and captain Enner Valencia, author of a double in the win against Qatar and the goal of the draw against the Netherlands. The attacker added six goals, counting the three goals he scored at Brazil 2014, to become the top scorer for TRAU at the World Cup.
Valencia played the last two games with a sprained left knee. At 33, it remains to be seen whether the forward will be in a position to face a third World Cup.
Regarding the next World Cup, which will be hosted by the United States, Canada and Mexico in 2026, Ecuador will have to start with a three-point loss in the South American qualifiers, in addition to paying a fine of 100,000 Swiss francs.
In eight games of the qualifying round for Qatar, right-back Byron Castillo was banned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport over improper alignment.
One of the replacements Ecuador will soon have to make is in goal.
Hernan Galindez, the defender in Qatar, and Dominguez, the starter in Brazil, are both 35 years old.
Alfaro, on the other hand, ruled out the possibility of continuing in Ecuador’s leadership, not ruling out withdrawing from all football activities following the elimination.
“He is a coach who is doing a good job, hopefully he can make decisions with a cool head, personally I want him to continue,” Dominguez said.
Instead of condemning the abolition, the Ecuadorians took credit for what the Argentine strategist had done and were upbeat about the future.
“The legacy of Gustavo Alfaro to the youth, 2026”, titled El Comercio de Guayaquil.