Ecuador
© Getty Images

The past
Ecuador’s only prior appearance at the FIFA U-20 World Cup came a decade ago at Argentina 2001 when, under the stewardship of Fabian Burbano, they reached the Round of 16. Unfortunately for La Tricolor, waiting for them there were eventual finalists Ghana and a young Michael Essien, who prevailed 1-0 in a tight encounter. The South Americans had earlier emerged from a group containing Ethiopia, Costa Rica and the Netherlands.

The present
At underage level, the fortunes of Ecuador’s national teams have been on the rise in recent years, as demonstrated by their gold medal at the 2007 Pan American Games. Now, ten years on from their maiden appearance at a FIFA U-20 World Cup, they will again grace youth football’s premier event, this time under Sixto Vizuete. Qualification for Colombia 2011 was far from straightforward though, with the team only securing their passage thanks to a 1-0 win over Chile in the final game of the hexagonal phase in Peru. In the earlier group stage, Vizuete’s side had finished behind Brazil with two wins, a draw and just one defeat, before sealing a finals’ berth with two wins, two draws and one defeat in the six-team final round.

The future
Ecuador head to Colombia intent on emulating the achievements of the class of 2001. And if they are to grace the knockout rounds of the competition once again, they will need to maintain the defensive solidity that saw them concede the fewest goals of all the competing sides in Peru. With their ability to counter-attack using pacy wide men, La Tricolor are capable of asking questions of any side in Colombia. “Our reaching the World Cup was no coincidence, rather the fruit of a very thorough process. I believe we’re capable of great things, and we’ll go to Colombia to impose our own game,” said the coach