WE’VE signed up BBC expert Tim Vickery (@Tim_Vickery) for the Copa America and here he tells us why Ecuador may offer each way value.
1. Experienced Coach Gustavo Quinteros
Gustavo Quinteros has a wealth of experience in the game and he can make a difference to Ecuador’s chances in Chile. He’s only just taken over after a successful spell in charge of club side Emelec and in his two matches he’s oversaw narrow defeats to Mexico and Argentina. The performances were positive despite the defeats and Quinteros has come across a lot more hopeful with regard to this competition since then. If he can solve their defensive vulnerabilities than Ecuador could have a positive tournament.
2. Improvement In Recent Matches
As mentioned above they played well in defeat against Mexico and Argentina and it’s a decent building block towards the tournament. They often get accused of being an altitude side but the World Cup last year proved there’s more to them than that. It’s only two years since Ecuador won in Portugal in a friendly match and that’s something they’ll cling to hitting the road to Chile.
3. The Rise Of Enner Valencia
Valencia has exploded in recent years with the West Ham striker enjoying a good World Cup last year and a positive debut season at Upton Park. His rise began under coach Quinteros after the Bolivian turned him from a winger into a striker when they worked at Emelec together. Since then he hasn’t looked back and he may be worth backing each way in the Top Goalscorer market.
4. Pace On The Counter
The loss of Antonio Valencia through injury is a blow – but there are a few capable deputies around. Fidel Martinez did very well last Saturday, scoring twice as Ecuador breezed 4-0 past a decent Panama side. Jefferson Montero of Swansea was on fire, scoring one and having a hand in the other three – when he runs at opposing defences, they have every reason to be worried
5. Harmony In The Camp
There were rumours of internal problems during the aftermath of last year’s World Cup but since Quinteros has come in all talk of this has been abandoned. You wouldn’t want to mess with the coach, he’s a big guy, and if any problems develop before the Copa he’ll certainly bang heads together. I don’t think Ecuador did badly in the World Cup despite being the only South American nation to fail to get out the group. They should have got a draw against Switzerland when hit with a stoppage time sucker punch and held France to a draw despite long periods with 10 men. It wouldn’t be a surprise to me if they reached the Quarter-Finals and then who knows.