Ecuador’s national football team failed to advance to the 16-team knockout stage of the World Cup on Tuesday, falling to Senegal 2-1. The loss confirmed coach Gustavo Alfaro’s fear that the Tri-Color would not be able to maintain the intensity it showed in its victory over Qatar and tie with the Netherlands.
“I knew that maintaining the high level of play of the first two matches would be difficult,” Alfaro said. “I also worried about over-confidence after our strong showing against the Netherlands in a match we probably should have won. Many press reports suggested we would easily defeat Senegal and move to the next stage and I worried that the players might believe this. I knew how strong Senegal is and how well-coached they are.”
Ecuador played a weak first half Tuesday and were lucky to be down only one goal at halftime, as Senegal dominated ball control and had seven shots on goal to Ecuador’s two. The team rallied in the second period, tying the score on a goal by Moisés Caicedo at the 67-minute mark. Senegal needed only three minutes, however, to retake the lead on a goal by Kalidou Koulibaly.
“I was proud of our side in the second period but we could not overcome the persistence of Senegal,” Alfaro said. “We made some tactical mistakes, especially in the midfield, and several of our side were not at 100% because of injury.”
According to the Argentinian coach, Ecuador will return to World Cup competition in 2026. “This was the second youngest team in Qatar and we have a bright future and the ability to play at the elite level. I reminded the team that they have had a great run, accomplishing goals that previous teams have not achieved. We will be back.”