I do not exaggerate when I say that nobody in Ecuador believed that the national team would make it to the Qatar World Cup. Before the start of the qualifyers, Jordi Cruyff’s coaching staff had left whitout even debuting. Gustavo Alfaro joined on August 26th, 2020.
The ‘Tri’ started their path against Argentina on October 9th of that year. The previous failures of this national team and the disappointment of Cruyff had put Ecuador on a hopeless situation.
Despite the short time that Alfaro had to work with the team, the debut against Argentina showed some interesting aspects. However, the ones who brought some excitement to the country were the upcoming outcomes: the wins by 4-2 against Uruguay, 2-3 versus Bolivia and 6-1 against Colombia.
The ‘Tri’ have not been out from the direct qualifying spots since the third fixture (except for the tenth one, when they were fifth on the table). Alfaro has built a solid group that is able to battle against any other team despite their youth.
Hernán Galíndez, Félix Torres, Piero Hincapié, Bryon Castillo, Carlos Gruezo, Moisés Caicedo, Ángel Mena and Gonzalo Plata. These players have been the pillars of the national team, those who have maintained an excellent level during the entire process with just sporadic mistakes.
Ecuador have made a feat in South America: to qualify for the World Cup with a U-23 players as their base. On one hand, this really shows the potential of the Tri. On the other, it reminds us that the possibility of big mistakes or bad moments are always there.
This coaching staff and these group of players have returned the illusion to an entire country. They have reached a goal that we did not even dreamed of back in 2020. From here, and as an Ecuadorian, I thank them. Ecuador will play the World Cup eight years later.
Translated by Guillermo Bermejo.
Main image: @LaTri.