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Thread: Ecuador

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    Ecuador

    Manchester United winger Antonio Valencia is the star name in Ecuador's provisional 30-man squad for next month's FIFA World Cup™ in Brazil.

    The 28-year-old will be hoping to put a miserable domestic campaign with United behind him when his country take on Switzerland, Honduras and France in Group E.

    Felipe Caicedo, now with United Arab Emirates club Al Jazira, has also been included, as has 35-year-old midfielder Edison Mendez, Ecuador's third-most capped player.

    Head coach Reinaldo Rueda must finalise his squad before the cut-off point of June 2.

    Ecuador's provisional 30-man squad:
    Maximo Banguera (Barcelona, Ecuador), Adrian Bone (El Nacional), Alexander Dominguez (Liga de Quito), Gabriel Achilier (Emelec), Walter Ayovi (Pachuca), Oscar Bagui (Emelec), Frickson Erazo (Flamengo), Jorge Guagua (Emelec), John Narvaez (Emelec), Juan Carlos Paredes (Barcelona, Ecuador), Cristian Ramirez (Fortuna Duesseldorf), Michael Arroyo (Atlante), Segundo Castillo (Al Hilal), Carlos Gruezo (Stuttgart), Renato Ibarra (Vitesse Arnhem), Fidel Martinez (Tijuana), Edison Mendez (Santa Fe), Oswaldo Minda (Chivas USA), Christian Noboa (Dynamo Moscow), Pedro Quinonez (Emelec), Luis Saritama (Barcelona, Ecuador), Antonio Valencia (Manchester United), Jaime Ayovi (Tijuana), Felipe Caicedo (Al-Jazira), Angel Mena (Emelec), Jefferson Montero (Morelia), Cristian Penilla (Barcelona, Ecuador), Joao Rojas (Cruz Azul), Enner Valencia (Pachuca), Armando Wila (Universidad Catolica)

    * Squad lists are only official once they have been confirmed and published by FIFA on 16 May at 12:00 CET.

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    Rueda includes injured Castillo in Ecuador squad

    Ecuador head coach Reinaldo Rueda has named Segundo Castillo in his 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ squad despite the midfielder suffering a nasty knee injury in Saturday's friendly against Mexico.

    Castillo has undergone tests and treatment since suffering his blow when Mexico's Luis Montes went in hard on him in a 50-50 challenge.

    Montes came out worst as he suffered a broken leg, while Castillo, despite looking to have his knee bent back at an unnatural angle in the tackle, has a hope of playing at the tournament in Brazil.

    Manchester United winger Antonio Valencia is the star name in Ecuador's 23-man party, which was announced on the national federation's website.

    The 28-year-old will be hoping to put a miserable domestic campaign with United behind him when his country take on Switzerland, Honduras and France in Group E.

    Former Manchester City striker Felipe Caicedo, now with United Arab Emirates club Al Jazira, has also been included, as has 35-year-old midfielder Edison Mendez, Ecuador's third most capped player in history.

    Ecuador 2014 World Cup squad

    Goalkeepers:
    Maximo Banguera (Barcelona), Adrian Bone (El Nacional), Alexander Dominguez (Liga de Quito)
    Defenders: Gabriel Achilier (Emelec), Walter Ayovi (Pachuca/Mexico), Oscar Bagui (Emelec), Frickson Erazo (Flamengo/Brazil), Jorge Guagua (Emelec), Juan Carlos Paredes (Barcelona, Ecuador)
    Midfielders: Segundo Castillo (Al Hilal/Saudi Arabia), Carlos Gruezo (Stuttgart/Germany), Renato Ibarra (Vitesse Arnhem/Netherlands), Fidel Martinez (Tijuana/Mexico), Edison Mendez (Santa Fe/Mexico), Christian Noboa (Dinamo Moscow/Russia), Luis Saritama (Barcelona), Antonio Valencia (Manchester United/England)
    Forwards: Jaime Ayovi (Tijuana/Mexico), Felipe Caicedo (Al Jazira/United Arab Emirates), Jefferson Montero (Morelia/Mexico), Joao Rojas (Cruz Azul/Mexico), Enner Valencia (Pachuca/Mexico), Michael Arroyo (Atlante/Mexico)

    * Squad lists are only official once they have been confirmed and published by FIFA on 5 June at 12:00 CET.

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    Minda replaces Castillo in Ecuador squad

    Oswaldo Minda earned a late call-up to Ecuador's FIFA World Cup™ squad on Sunday as a replacement for injured midfielder Segundo Castillo. Castillo, who plays his club football for Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal, lost his battle to be fit after injuring ligaments in his right knee during a friendly with Mexico on May 31. "In spite of his determined efforts and those of the medical team he will not be fit in time for the World Cup," the Ecuador Football Federation said in a statement.

    Minda, 30, was in coach Reinaldo Rueda's provisional 30-man squad but was left out when the final list of 23 was submitted. Ecuador, who reached the Round of 16 in their last appearance at the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™, have been drawn in Group E along with France, Switzerland and minnows Honduras, whom Rueda coached at the 2010 World Cup finals.

    They open their campaign against the Swiss on Saturday in Brasilia.

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    Mendez: We are concentrated on our job

    Edison Mendez is about to play his last FIFA World Cup™ and complete a remarkable journey from scavenging for food to eat and shoes to wear to becoming Ecuador's most respected footballer. The 35-year-old midfielder was the man who scored his country's first ever World Cup finals goal in the 1-0 win over Croatia at the 2002 finals when he was 23, his team's youngest player. But it was a rocky, poverty-stricken path to the sport's biggest tournament. Mendez, capped 111 times, grew up in the harsh, dusty Chota valley in central Ecuador.

    "We didn't have bread every day and for shoes we had to rummage through rubbish bins, pick them out and then wear them," Mendez said. As well as being the oldest player in Reinaldo Rueda's squad in Brazil, where Ecuador are drawn in Group E along with Switzerland, 1998 champions France and Honduras, Mendez is the only one who will be involved in a third World Cup. He is also mentoring the youngest, 19-year-old Carlos Gruezo who relies on the experience and input of Mendez in Brazil.

    "Sometimes the climate, the people and the euphoria may take us all a long way from reality," Mendez said. "But we have to be concentrated on our job and live our own history." Mendez said he intends to live every moment of his last World Cup. "My aim is to make the most of every minute, of each training session and perform to the maximum with my team-mates."

    Mendez certainly brings plenty of experience to Ecuador as they try to make the last 16 for only the second time after getting out of the group stages in 2006 in Germany. After beginning his career at Deportivo Quito and Nacional in Ecuador, he moved to Mexico before returning to his home country where he won a league title with Liga de Quito. He then tried his luck with PSV Eindhoven, winning two Dutch titles, followed by a short stay at Atletico Mineiro in Brazil. Mendez then went home again, to Emelec and another spell at Liga de Quito.

    This year, he was on the move once more, signing for Independiente de Sante Fe, in Colombia. Once the World Cup is over, Mendez will seek another challenge with one last club. For now, it is the World Cup which is concentrating his mind and he will be key to his team's chances along with fellow experienced internationals, goalkeeper Agustin Delgado and defender Ulises de la Cruz. Come what may in Brazil, Mendez will always remember his humble roots which helped propel him to fame and fortune. "Sometimes to become somebody, you have to go hungry. The key to success is there," he said.

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    Trio aware of France's forward threat

    Ecuador are expecting to be overworked in defence during their FIFA World Cup™ clash with France at the Maracana on Wednesday. Les Bleus are the joint-top scorers at the tournament so far, having plundered eight goals in two games. Defender Frickson Erazo and midfielder Christian Noboa are preparing to be called in for overtime in their defensive duties in their final Group E match in Rio de Janeiro.

    "The way to read it is that we're going to have a lot of work in defence," said Erazo. Noboa added: "They scored eight goals in one match [an 8-0 thumping of Jamaica in a FIFA World Cup warm-up]. Scoring a goal in a World Cup is difficult and scoring eight, that gives you a guide to what France are all about." Didier Deschamps' side opened up their campaign with a 3-0 win over Honduras before thumping Switzerland 5-2.

    In matches against the same teams, Ecuador lost 2-1 to the Swiss before scraping a win over Honduras by the same score. They sit second in the group but with Switzerland facing pointless Honduras in their last game, Ecuador are likely going to need a victory to progress to the Round of 16. "They're going to be very difficult opponents, we know France's strengths but we're going to have to take care if we want to hurt them," said Enner Valencia.

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    Noboa: It's hard to make Enner laugh

    Christian Noboa is a player who brings balance to the Ecuador midfield. Solid in defence and a fine passer of the ball, the Dynamo Moscow man is a vital asset for coach Reinaldo Rueda and is sure to have a big say in Thursday’s crunch meeting with France at the Maracana – a game that will determine La Tri’s fate at Brazil 2014. “It’s like a final for us and we’re hoping to win it and make our people happy,” Noboa told FIFA.com, looking ahead to Ecuador’s final match in Group E. “We can beat France. That’s why we’re here at the World Cup, because every team is capable of beating anyone else. We’ve seen that in the other games, and there isn’t much difference between sides now. “France are France though, and we have to be focused on our game. It’s going to be tough and there’s a place in the last 16 at stake.”

    Known as El Zar, Noboa added: “We have to win to go through and it’s all or nothing for us. We have to show a lot of the things we showed against Honduras, such as our attitude and concentration. The strategy needs to be different, though, as no two games are the same and every team has their own way of playing. Even so, we have to show the same desire and play the same way.” La Tri’s 2-1 defeat of Honduras, which kept their qualification hopes alive, was much celebrated by the Ecuadorians, as Noboa explained: “We were under so much pressure and we knew it was a matter of life or death. We had to win to keep our hopes alive, and when the game was over we were so happy at getting the three points and giving our country something to celebrate.”

    Discussing how the FIFA World Cup™ has gone for him on a personal level, Noboa said: “It’s been very good and I’ve been feeling better with each game. This is my first World Cup and there are always things to learn. I’ve felt really good though, and I hope I feel just as good for the France game. And if I can do my job better, then everything will be better for me and my team.” Ecuador’s best performance in the world finals came at Germany 2006, when they reached the Round of 16, the benchmark for Rueda’s team in Brazil. “Our goal is to get beyond the group phase and match what we did in 2006,” explained Noboa. “We want to make the fans happy. They’ve always supported us and they need a win. We’ve got a good side but it’s not going to be easy. We’ll do what we did against Honduras and give it our best shot. Like I said before – this is a life-or-death game for us.”

    Enner praise
    Ecuador’s hero against the Hondurans was Enner Valencia, who scored twice in that game to take his tournament tally to three goals in two games. Giving his view on a player who has the whole world sitting up and taking notice of him, Noboa said: “We know him well. He’s a very quiet person and very shy. We tell him jokes and try to make him laugh, but it’s not easy because he’s very reserved.

    "He’s still a great player. He tries his hardest in every training session and he’s always looking to improve. He’s doing a great job and we have every confidence in our front line thanks to him.” Summing up the challenging assignment ahead of the South Americans, Noboa said: “We can’t have one eye on the other match, which is played at the same time as ours. We can’t sit and wait to see how things go. The equation is a simple one for us and it’s entirely in our hands. If we win, we’re through.”

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    Ayovi: Ecuador have got a good future

    The expression on Walter Ayovi’s face said it all after Ecuador departed the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ earlier than they had anticipated. Having gone into their final Group E match with France in second place in the standings, any positive sense of achievement from their goalless draw was eclipsed by the disappointment of losing out to Switzerland, who turned on the style in their last game.

    “It’s very difficult to analyse our performance in our final game now that we’ve been knocked out,” the 34-year-old told FIFA.com. “We’re really upset and the saddest thing is to be left with the feeling that we have to go home just as we were getting to grips with how to play at a World Cup. We knew that’s what this kind of short tournament is like but even so it’s still tough to take.”

    Nevertheless, the fact that Ecuador caused title-candidates France serious problems, even after going down to ten men following Antonio Valencia’s sending off, has provided the left-back with a silver lining: “To be able to compete on an equal footing with France, who are such a strong team, shows that Ecuador have got the potential to keep improving. We’ve got players with great qualities who should believe in themselves and what they’re capable of.”

    Bowing out?
    Asked whether the squad would return home with any regrets, Ayovi was forthright in his response: “No, although to be honest if we’d been more forceful in our first game then maybe things would have turned out differently. But we also didn’t defend very well. At a World Cup the majority of matches are very tight and any mistakes get punished. We slipped up against Switzerland and paid for that against France.”

    Ayovi could not help but smile when he was reminded that his 93rd cap for Ecuador was earned at the iconic Estadio Maracana. “Yes, that’s something I was aware of,” said the defender, who plays for Mexican side Pachuca. “I try to enjoy playing football every day and that’s why I came to the World Cup. I wanted to get to the next round just like everyone else, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that we’re happy with what we’ve achieved up to this point.”

    The veteran is undecided on his future in the national team, although his pauses between speaking revealed as much as his words in hinting that he could have played his last game for Ecuador. “I don’t know…I need to start thinking about my club again and after that we’ll see what happens. I should talk to the coach and see how or in what capacity I can help out,” he said with a wink.

    However, the uncertainty surrounding his personal future does not extend to that of the national team, for whom he has high hopes: “As I said earlier, there are a lot of talented players here who make up a good squad that can reach tournaments like this on a regular basis. My mind’s at ease knowing Ecuador have got a good future.”

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