Let me present another participant of the World Cup in Qatar - the team of Ecuador, which performs in Group "A".
The very name of the country indicates its geographical position: Ecuador, located on the western edge of South America, is pierced by the equator. A former Inca state and former Spanish colony, it became independent in 1809. The country's economy relies on oil exports, and also delivers the largest amount of bananas to the world market.
Ecuador's national soccer team
Ecuador has for many years been considered one of the worst teams in South America - in the 20th century they challenged Venezuela for the title of the mainland's underdog. Since 1939 Ecuadorian players played in the America's Cup - and only twice, in 1959 and 1993, managed to break into fourth place.
As for the World Cups, the first in which the Ecuadorians claimed to participate was held in 1962. But for forty years to get to the finals failed. And then, finally, in 2002, they went to Japan. It did not work out so well: after two defeats to Italy - 0:2 and Mexico - 1:2, the Ecuadorian team beat Croatia - 1:0 in the third game, but failed to climb up from the last place in the group.
At the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, the Ecuadorians achieved the best result in history, managing to get out of the group by beating the Poles 2-0 and Costa Ricans 3-0. They failed to cope with the Germans - 0-3, and in the 1/8 finals against Great Britain, the South Americans fought hard and only one goal from Beckham decided the outcome of the match - 0-1.
In 2014, in Brazil it was not possible to repeat the success: they started with a loss to Switzerland - 1:2, and the decisive goal was missed on the 93rd minute. Then there was a strong victory over Honduras - 2-1 and a heroic draw with France - 0-0. However, even victory did not guarantee a playoff appearance.
The stars of the Ecuadorian national team
Players in Ecuador are not as well-known in the world as their South American neighbors: most of them play in the domestic championship in Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, the United States. Not an exception and the main legend of the national team - the defender Ivan Hurtado, who played 168 games for it. Out of 22 years of his career he spent only two years in Europe - in the Spanish Murcia.
The most famous national team player is, of course, midfielder Christian Noboa from Sochi, Russia, who scored 83 goals and 4 goals for the national team.
Of the current team, Fenerbahce forward and national team captain Enner Valencia stands out, with 35 goals he is the best goalscorer in the history of the Ecuadorians. And perhaps two midfielders - Carlos Grueso from Augsburg and Gonzalo Plata from Valladolid. However, in the coming years there could be more: the national team of Ecuador has a lot of young players.
Opponents in Group A
Netherlands, Senegal, Qatar.
Ecuador national team performance forecast
The Ecuadorians are unlikely to be first in the group, but the positions two through four are equally within their rights. Senegal's class is probably higher, but the Ecuadorian team is more creative on the pitch. And if you do not beat Qatar, even on its field, then it is not worth coming to the World Cup.