IWhenever the numerous Ecuadorian fans who have traveled to support their team, the chants of “sí, se puede”, the Spanish version of the classic “Yes, we can” from Barack Obama’s election campaign, can be heard from the stands. There is hope and conviction in this battle cry. Convince that coach Gustavo Alfaro’s team can achieve something at this World Cup. She is young, full of talents like Piero Hincapie from Leverkusen, the future should belong to her. Ecuador does not have a glorious past like so many of its rivals in South America.
History has yet to be written. In the second group game against the European heavyweight Netherlands, the players showed that they could be considered as authors. Ecuador beat the favorites 1-1 and were even the better team for quite a while. On the last matchday of Group A, Ecuador will face Senegal in a final on Tuesday.
A draw would be enough. A draw against Qatar is also enough for the Netherlands (both games at 4:00 p.m. CET in the FAZ live ticker for the World Cup, on ARD, ZDF and on MagentaTV).
Last reason to be happy
The Dutch could not really convince. Coach Louis van Gaal expressed his displeasure with the performance by making three changes to the winning XI that beat Senegal 2-0. Among other things, it caught Bayern professional Matthijs de Ligt. Cody Gakpo, the first goalscorer from the Senegal game, was unaffected by his coach’s desire to change. Gakpo is forecast to have a bright future, as will some of his Ecuadorian counterparts.
What he is capable of, he proved in the early stages. He picked up a pass from former Bremen player Davy Klaassen and shot the ball into the top corner (6th minute). The Dutch cheered, but had no idea that it was the last reason to be happy.
Slowly at first, then with more determination, Ecuador took control of the game. They had dominated the ranks anyway, now the vocal violence of their supporters was transferred to the pitch. The ball stayed longer in their ranks and at some point they dared to go further with it. Enner Valencia tried a powerful shot from distance, goalkeeper Andries Noppert could not be overcome (33rd). Noppert was then beaten in stoppage time in the first half, but was lucky that a shot by Pervis Estupinan’s teammate Jackson Porozo was sidelined.
Left-back Estupinan had now zeroed in. At the beginning of the second half he chased the ball back towards Noppert. He could only high five, Valencia was there – 1: 1 (48th). “Sí, se puede” echoed from the ranks, audience and players wanted more. Valencia tried but got stuck. Gonzalo Plata’s rebound landed on the crossbar (55′). Yes, these Ecuadorians can really make a difference. Only their most important player will probably not be able to help them anymore. Valencia, the three-time goalscorer, was substituted off injured as he was against Senegal, but this time it seems more serious.
Due to the draw, Qatar no longer has a chance of occupying one of the first two places in Group A. The World Cup organizers had previously suffered their second defeat in their second game in a 3-1 loss to Senegal.