Ecuador World Cup PreviewPosted: Tuesday May 28, 2002 11:57 AM
How they line up
Coach Hernan Dario Gomez has formed his family, and it seems to be functioning. It may well be there there is no place in the starting line up for Alex Aguinaga, which under recently would have been unthinkable. But even if he is left out, the veteran playmaker will be a precious option on the bench.
His best chance of a place in the starting line up is if Agustin Delgado fails to regain full fitness in time. Delgado's strike partnership with Ivan Kaviedes was the best thing about the team in qualification. The pair worked closely together, and their styles proved complementary; Kaviedes full of audacious trickery, the gangling Delgado more straightforward, but a brutally effective finisher on the ground and in the air. Should Delgado's knee problem fail to clear up, there are two options; a straight replacement by the burly Carlos Tenorio, full of strength and promise but still a bit raw. Or the introduction of Aguinaga, operating in the hole behind a lone striker. Right winger Angel Fernandez is often brought off the bench.
Aguinaga began the qualification campaign at the cutting edge of a midfield diamond. But in the search for more defensive solidity Gomez altered the formation. Now the center of midfield features two defensive minded players. Edwin Tenorio is full of stamina and fierce tackling. The taller Alfonso Obregon tends to hold his position more, and is more constructive on the ball.
The more creative pair of midfielders are pushed wide. Cleber Chala is a tall, dynamic presence on the right flank. His game has a more attacking balance than Edison Mendez, a small midfielder of great versatility and growing confidence. Mendez divides his time between marking and creative duties, and usually starts out on the left, though he and Chala tend to switch flanks a number of times during the game.
Juan Carlos Burbano is a capable replacement for the defensive midfield positions, while Luis Gomez can bring pace and stamina to the right side of midfield or the right back position. Coach Gomez makes much use of width with Ecuador than he ever did when in charge of Colombia.
Both full-backs are expected to make an attacking contribution. Right-back Ulises De La Cruz is one of the team's trump cards. He is at his most dangerous cutting in towards goal, and Chala will often create space for him to do so by stretching the opposing defense. Left back Raul Guerron is much more limited, but charges forward with strength and enthusiasm.
The experienced Ivan Hurtado has the vital task of organizing a defense which has a tendency to be caught flat. Elegant both in his tackling and his distribution, Hurtado forms a partnership with the stronger, cruder Augusto Poroso, who seems to have regained the post from the somewhat clumsy Giovany Espinoza.
The very ordinary Marlon Ayovi covers the full back positions, while the promising Jorge Guagua can fill in either at center back or as a defensive midfielder.
The goalkeeper's jersey belongs to Josť Cevallos, a reassuringly calm and reliable operator. His reserve Geovani Ibarra has neither of these attributes, but is capable of the spectacular.
From World Soccer magazine.