Ecuador
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The past
This year’s event will be Ecuador’s third FIFA U-17 World Cup campaign, though only the second for which they have had to qualify, having featured as host nation in 1995. That edition on home soil proved to be their most successful to date, with Ecuador reaching the quarter-finals of the 12-team competition before exiting at the hands of Argentina. On their first outing in Canada in 1987, they failed to progress from the group phase.

The present
Coach Xavier Rodriguez’s young charges showed plenty of character and the ability to keep a cool head at key moments, both of which are vital ingredients for the host nation at a major qualifying event. Thus it was that Ecuador reached the six-team final phase of March/April’s South American U-17 Championship on home soil by finishing second behind Argentina in Group A, and it was a narrow win over the Argentinians in the final round that proved vital in securing a berth at Mexico 2011. A well-balanced and effective outfit, La Tricolor won three, drew four and lost just two of their nine games.

The future
“We’ve got a lot of things to work on and need to learn something new each day, because the World Cup is going to be a very tough competition,” said defender Marlon Mejia after Ecuador had booked their passage to Mexico. “We need to ready ourselves to face very difficult rivals and new situations.”