After the enormous frustration of missing out on South Africa 2010, Ecuador did what was tasked of them and qualified for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ for what will be their third appearance at football’s showpiece event.
And while they were made to sweat until the South American Zone’s final matchday to secure an automatic qualifying berth, that in no way diminishes the achievement. Moreover, La Tricolor will be taking part in their third World Cup in 12 years – proof positive that they have established themselves among the region’s elite, and in a lot less time than some of their more storied continental rivals.
Now, FIFA.com brings you some revealing stats from Ecuador’s qualification campaign – one that brought notable highs as well as moments of real sadness.
the playing time in minutes that team captain Walter Ayovi racked up during the qualifiers. The left-sided midfielder was the only member of the Tricolor squad to play every minute of his side’s 16 fixtures on the road to Brazil. Below him on the list of most-used Ecuadorians is winger Antonio Valencia (1310 minutes from 15 games) and central defender Frickson Erazo (1297 in 15). All told, coach Reinaldo Rueda used the services of 34 players during the campaign.
the team’s winning percentage during their home fixtures, the highest of any South American side en route to Brazil. La Tricolor won seven of their eight games in Quito, only drawing against the top team in the standings, Argentina. In front of their home fans, they fired in 15 goals and conceded just three. Indeed, the 22 points they garnered in Quito represented 88 per cent of their total points tally during qualifying.
the number of goals Ecuador conceded home and away, the third-lowest amount after Colombia (13) and Argentina (15). La Tricolor kept clean sheets on four occasions, all of them in Quito. Of the five defeats they suffered during the qualifiers, only one was by a margin of more than one goal: the 4-0 reverse at the hands of Argentina in Buenos Aires.
the shirt number worn by former Ecuador international Cristian Benitez, who died of heart failure at the age of 27 while playing for Qatari club El Jaish earlier this year. Chucho was one of the mainstays of the Tricolor team, scoring four goals during the current campaign. Speaking after his side had secured a place in Brazil, Rueda said: “We dedicate this qualification to the memory of the great Chucho, who is no longer with us. Only his family know what we’re feeling for this brother, this son, who passed away.” As a mark of respect, his shirt number will no longer be used in qualifying games, the country’s FA recently revealed.
the number of goals scored by Felipe Caicedo, Ecuador’s leading marksman en route to Brazil. The striker, who found the net four times from the penalty spot, is followed by the Cristian Benitez on four, Jefferson Montero and Segundo Castillo on three, and Edison Mendez, Joao Rojas and Jaimen Ayovi with one apiece. With 20 goals in total, the country’s attack was the fifth most potent behind Argentina (35), Chile (29), Colombia (27) and Uruguay (25).
the number of FIFA World Cups Ecuador have now qualified for, curiously all under the stewardship of Colombian coaches. Paving the way for Rueda in the Tricolor hotseat were Hernan Bolillo Gomez, whose side could not go beyond the group phase at Korea/Japan 2002, and Luis Fernando Suarez, who steered his charges to the Round of 16 at Germany 2006.
the number of consecutive World Cups Rueda will be appearing in, having taken Honduras to South Africa 2010. In August of that year, he parted company with Los Catrachos to take up his current post. The 56-year-old has now presided over 33 games at the Ecuador helm, recording 14 wins, ten draws and nine defeats.
the number of wins Ecuador managed on the road during this qualifying campaign. They did, however, record three draws, including one in Uruguay that would prove decisive. The two teams ended up with 25 points apiece, but Rueda’s side denied La Celeste fourth spot and the last direct qualifying berth by virtue of their superior goal difference: +4 to 0.