Ecuador find themselves making the trip across the continent of South America for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil after finishing 4th in a table of the nine. The “CONMEBOL” zone of qualification normally features 10 teams but due to host nation Brazil qualifying automatically, they didn’t need to participate this time around.
The Spanish speaking country of Ecuador made a promising start to qualification with a 2-0 win over Venezuela in their national stadium ‘Estadio Olimpico Atahualpa’ thanks to goals from Jaime Ayovi and Christian Benitez. The latter tragically died following a cardiac arrest in July of 2013.
“Chucho” will be a big miss for “La Tri” (Tri Colour) having bagged four goals in qualifying and was seen as the main man in Ecuador’s future successes.
Benitez would net again in Ecuador’s next win, again at home, following an away loss at the hands of Paraguay. Peru were the second team victim to Ecuador at the Olimpico Atahualpa as the Yellows ran out 2-0 winners with Edison Mendez grabbing the first goal.
Argentina would bring Ecuador back down to Earth though with a 4-0 trouncing in Buenos Aires with goals coming from Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Angel Di Maria, and of course, Lionel Messi.
La Tri got back to winning ways though with a 1-0 home win over Colombia with Benitez getting his third goal in qualification. That was followed up by a second successive 1-0 win, this time over Bolivia. Ex Manchester City man Felipe Caicedo slotting home the winner from the penalty spot.
He scored his second penalty in two games in Ecuador’s next game, a 1-1 draw in Uruguay, opening the scoring before Edinson Cavani levelled the game 25 minutes from time.
Caicedo added a further two goals to his tally after Ecuador got another three points this time at home to Chile. One of Caicedo’s brace was another penalty, his third in three games. Secundo Castillo completed the scoring in added time as Ecuador ran out 3-1 winners, with Chile taking the lead.
Castillo scored his second in qualifying in a 1-1 away draw to Venezuela before Ecuador continued their rich home form with a 4-1 demolition of Paraguay. Caicedo and Benitez scored either side of a Jefferson Montero double after Luis Nery Caballero had given Los Guaraníes the lead in Quito.
Ecuador’s next two games would be less successful however. A 1-0 away loss to Peru was followed by a 1-1 home draw against Argentina. Castillo cancelling out an early Aguero penalty.
Their bad form would continue into September of last year. A second 1-0 away loss on the bounce, this time at the hands of Colombia, came before an away draw in Bolivia. Caicedo scoring his fourth penalty.
The most crucial game of Ecuador’s qualification was to come next; Uruguay at home. Ecuador secured a 1-0 win over Luis Suarez and co with Montero netting after half an hour. This left Tri Colour three points ahead of their qualification rivals and meant that despite Uruguay beating Argentina 3-2 and Ecuador losing 2-1 in Chile on the final day, Ecuador qualified in 4th place on with 25 points.
Uruguay also finished on 25 points but thanks to Ecuador’s superior goal difference (of four), they qualified ahead of Uruguay, while La Celeste (The Sky Blues) finished in 5th and had to face a playoff. They won, convincingly, against Jordan 0-5 on aggregate and we will see both Ecuador and Uruguay in Brazil this Summer.