Ecuador, appearing in its first World Cup since 2014, will play host team Qatar in Al-Bayt stadium in Al Khor on November 21. Ecuador captain Enner Valencia said the Tricolor will be up for the challenge. “This is a beautiful opportunity and we will be prepared for it,” he said. “The stadium will be packed for the home team and the game will be the highlight of opening day competition.”
Ecuador was picked to play in Group A of the World Cup opening round along with Qatar, the Netherlands and Senegal. After playing the other teams in the group, the top two teams advance to elimination play. According to Valencia, players and coaches are pleased with the draw. In world rankings, Qatar is 51, the Netherlands is 10, Senegal is 20 while Ecuador is 46.
Sports analyst Diego Arcos believes Ecuador has a “50-50 chance” of advancing out of group play. “Despite playing against Qatar in its home stadium in Al Khor, they will be slightly favored to win. The player match-ups are to their advantage,” he says. “Senegal will be much tougher since they are arguably the best team in Africa but I believe they are over-ranked. The Netherlands game will be much more difficult.”
To prepare for the World Cup, Valencia said the Tricolor would play five or six “friendly” matches between May and November.
Ecuador will be making its fourth appearance at the World Cup, having played in the 2002, 2006 and 2014 events.