The national team is perhaps the only reason why a country unites despite any struggles it may be going trough and when it comes to Ecuador that is no exception. It’s because of the passion and pride that we have towards our national team that for two years we watch every game they play hoping they can earn a place in the most prestigious tournament the sport knows, the World Cup. We have been fortunate enough to qualify to the last 3 of the 4 World Cups we played in but for the past two qualifying processes the lack of consistency nearly left us out. The key is consistency and that’s something we are missing at the moment and if they don’t find it we can be saying goodbye to one of the best generations of players to have represented us.
The conmebol or the south American World Cup qualifiers are the most complicated in the world because of the format we play in, meaning everyone against each other and from 10 teams only 4 go directly and the 5th one plays a playoff game, so there is no room for mistakes. Ecuador started off the road to Russia 2018 exceeding expectations; victories in the opening 3 games against Uruguay, Argentina and Bolivia seemed to be the consolidation of the best team since 2006 and possibly an early qualification to the World cup. I looked at it as the perfect start but as soon as those 3 games were up reality hit hard, we struggled in every level on and off the field but I couldn’t expect more after the whole FIFA scandal surfaced. The corruption scandal was the beginning of the bad result streak we would go trough but it all came back to one particular part of the organization.
The coaching staff became a big headache rather than a problem thanks to the unreasonable tactics Gustavo Quinteros used in many of the games we played. He would play a natural midfielder in a defender position and would go as far as calling out of form players to the national team, but amazingly he hasn’t been sacked to this day. The players that stand out the most as far as performing poorly are Gabriel Achiller, Enner Valencia and Felipe Caicedo. The first one probably the worst defender to be playing in the national team and is the reason why we lost against Peru, Colombia and Brazil and trust me when I tell you there are far better players for his role but Quinteros wont accept it. This lack of consistency is more evident up front when you see that the two main strikers (Caicedo and Enner) just won’t score, everyone but the coach knows that if your team doesn’t score then the team wont win, we have better options? Yes we do but I think Quinteros just wants them to play the last 2 minutes of every game or just keep the bench warm, again im not the coach but he has no logic in my opinion.
Ecuador just played Chile and Bolivia managing a convincing victory against the Copa America champions but rescued a dramatic tie against bottom of the table Bolivia, again showing inconsistency in their style of play and raising more questions than answers. How do you beat the best team but struggle with a much weaker one? I know im not the only one asking this question but looking ahead the chance to qualify got harder than it needed to be. Ecuador has two games left in this first round of the qualifiers; in November we face Uruguay and Venezuela and we wont return to action until march of next year meaning we need to come up with a win and a tie on this last two games if we want to keep the dream alive.
The situation is critical because as of right now we are in third place and I know its nothing to be worried about but lets look at the big picture. Ecuador is only in third place because of a SINGLE goal difference with Colombia but we are both tied in points. There is one more problem that we have to worry about though, that is the point difference between the 6th and the 3rd place respectively since there is only 3 points separating them, so whoever concedes points can drop out of the race in a matter of 90 minutes. I’m I worried that Ecuador wont make it? Of course I am, but as long as things don’t change on the managerial level we will always be with that fear. We shouldn’t be this compromised after the way we started this qualifier but I guess life works in mysterious ways and I must be prepared for the worst just in case they meess up like they did a few years ago, until then Ill support them no matter what!.