Despite some off-field issues in the run-up to the tournament, Ecuador will proceed to the 2022 FIFA World Cup with the hopes of challenging for a knockout stage spot.
Ecuador just would not go away in CONMEBOL World Cup qualification, punching above their weight and frustrating South American powers Brazil and Argentina as they secured points up and down the round-robin qualifying schedule.
That earned La Tri a direct ticket to Qatar and a spot in a competitive Group A alongside hosts Qatar plus the Netherlands and Senegal.
Despite a dispute with Chile and Peru around a potentially ineligible player in World Cup qualifying, La Tri will keep their spot in the World Cup finals at the expense of their South American rivals. They now look towards Group A play, with their tournament squad solidified.
🤩 El único que conoce los 26 próximos convocados a la @fifaworldcup_es
— La Tri 🇪🇨 (@LaTri) November 12, 2022
Final 26-man Ecuador World Cup roster
Manager Gustavo Alfaro had until Friday, October 21 to submit an official preliminary list of 35-55 players to FIFA, from which he selected his final 26-man roster for Qatar by Monday, November 14.
Alfaro waited until the final second to make his roster public, with Ecuador becoming the last World Cup team to announce its squad.
Enner Valencia, in good form for Turkish side Fenerbahce, leads the squad into the tournament in Qatar.
There are two players on the final Ecuador roster who have not yet earned an international cap — 21-year-old William Pacho and 22-year-old Kevin Rodriguez.
Byron Castillo, the player at the heart of the summer eligibility dispute, was not included on the roster.
Here is the final 26-man squad for Ecuador at the 2022 FIFA World Cup:
|Goalkeeper||Alexander Dominguez||Deportes Tolima (ECU)||35||67|
|Goalkeeper||Hernan Galindez||Aucas (ECU)||35||12|
|Goalkeeper||Moises Ramirez||Independiente (ECU)||22||2|
|Defender||Robert Arboleda||Sao Paulo (BRA)||31||32|
|Defender||Xavier Arreaga||Seattle Sounders (USA)||28||17|
|Defender||Pervis Estupinan||Brighton (ENG)||24||28|
|Defender||Piero Hincapie||Bayer Leverkusen (GER)||20||21|
|Defender||William Pacho||Royal Antwerp (BEL)||21||0|
|Defender||Diego Palacios||LAFC (USA)||23||11|
|Defender||Jackson Porozo||Troyes (FRA)||22||5|
|Defender||Angelo Preciado||Genk (BEL)||24||25|
|Defender||Felix Torres||Santos Laguna (MEX)||25||16|
|Midfielder||Moises Caicedo||Brighton (ENG)||20||25|
|Midfielder||Jose Cifuentes||LAFC (USA)||23||10|
|Midfielder||Alan Franco||Talleres (ARG)||24||23|
|Midfielder||Carlos Gruezo||Augsburg (GER)||27||45|
|Midfielder||Jhegson Mendez||LAFC (USA)||25||31|
|Midfielder||Ayrton Preciado||Santos Laguna (MEX)||28||27|
|Midfielder||Jeremy Sarmiento||Brighton (ENG)||20||9|
|Forward||Michael Estrada||Cruz Azul (MEX)||26||36|
|Forward||Romario Ibarra||Pachuca (MEX)||28||24|
|Forward||Angel Mena||Club Leon (MEX)||34||45|
|Forward||Gonzalo Plata||Real Valladolid (SPA)||21||29|
|Forward||Djorkaeff Reasco||Newell’s Old Boys (ARG)||23||3|
|Forward||Kevin Rodriguez||Imbabura SC (ECU)||22||0|
|Forward||Enner Valencia||Fenerbahce (TUR)||33||74|
— La Tri 🇪🇨 (@LaTri) November 14, 2022
Ecuador national team stars, strengths & weaknesses
Ecuador boss Gustavo Alfaro has a host of young talent to build on as Ecuador begin play at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Alfaro, an Argentine, took over the Ecuador squad in 2020. He formerly managed Boca Juniors, Al-Ahli, and Rosario Central among several other sides throughout his 30-year managerial career.
The most well-known player on the Ecuador squad is Enner Valencia, currently of Turkish side Fenerbahce. Valencia enjoyed a long career in the Premier League with West Ham and Everton before spending three seasons in Liga MX with Tigres. He moved back to Europe to join Fenerbahce, and has been in stellar form this season, scoring 13 goals and assisting four others in 12 Turkish Super Lig matches.
Brighton’s Premier League starting duo of do-it-all midfielder Moises Caicedo and left-back Pervis Estupinan are the up-and-coming stars on the European scene, along with Real Valladolid’s 21-year-old Gonzalo Plata who is already making his mark in La Liga.
The Ecuador side has an incredibly deep midfield unit, with lots of young talent coming through. In addition to Caicedo, in-demand 23-year-old Jose Cifuentes of LAFC is another of several pieces who can slot in. The experienced fixture marshaling the group is veteran Carlos Gruezo, who plies his trade in the Bundesliga with Augsburg.
Ecuador’s attack is led by star Enner Valencia, but as he ages (33), there are very few young players set to come and take over goal-scoring duties. Cruz Azul’s Michael Estrada has seen time at striker, but he has just one goal in his last 13 international appearances. Playmaker Joao Rojas tore his ACL with Liga MX side Monterrey, thinning the attacking ranks further.
Ecuador World Cup group
La Tri will begin World Cup action in Group A alongside hosts Qatar, plus European side Netherlands and African stalwarts Senegal.
Ecuador will play in the tournament-opening fixture against Qatar on November 20 — the only game on opening day.
While there is no true dominant side (No. 8-ranked Netherlands were a Pot 2 selection, with hosts Qatar serving as the Pot 1 side), there are also no games where three points can be easily predicted.
The hosts are likely the weakest possible opponent, but the host bump is a real, proven danger. The Netherlands and Senegal will both have their sights set on a knockout stage spot, leaving Ecuador to play spoiler if they are to reach the coveted Round of 16.
World Cup Group A fixtures and match schedule
|Sun, Nov. 20||Qatar vs. Ecuador||11 a.m.||Al Bayt Stadium|
|Mon, Nov. 21||Senegal vs. Netherlands||11 a.m.||Al Thumama Stadium|
|Fri, Nov. 25||Qatar vs. Senegal||8 a.m.||Al Thumama Stadium|
|Fri, Nov. 25||Netherlands vs. Ecuador||11 a.m.||Khalifa Int’l Stadium|
|Tues, Nov. 29||Netherlands vs. Qatar||10 a.m.||Al Bayt Stadium|
|Tues, Nov. 29||Ecuador vs. Senegal||10 a.m.||Khalifa Int’l Stadium|
Ecuador World Cup lineup, starting 11
There are a few decisions for Gustavo Alfaro to make as he selects his starting lineup.
In goal, he can go with experienced veteran Alexander Dominguez or recent starter Hernan Galindez, who started the final four World Cup qualifiers as well as a recent friendly against Japan.
Young Piero Hincapie is a lock to start at center-back, but his partner is in question. Veteran Roberto Arboleda is an option if he regains full fitness, as is MLS-based Xavier Arreaga.
Up front, the ever-present Enner Valencia should start, with Angel Mena in support. Romario Ibarra and young Gonzalo Plata should also see significant playing time on the wings.
Ecuador projected starting 11 vs Qatar
Ecuador lineup (4-3-3, left to right): Galindez (GK) — Estupinan, Hincapie, Arboleda, B. Castillo — M. Caicedo, Gruezo, Franco — Ibarra, Valencia, Plata.
Can Ecuador replace players on World Cup roster?
Once the final 26-man roster is official, participating teams at the World Cup can only make changes before the first game of the tournament, and only in the case of extraordinary circumstances.
According to the official tournament rules (page 32), “a player listed on the final list may only be replaced in the event of serious injury or illness up until 24 hours before the start of his team’s first match.”
The team in question would need to submit a medical report to FIFA and if the world governing body determines “the injury or illness is sufficiently serious to prevent the player from taking part in the FIFA World Cup” then the replacement will be allowed.
The replacement player must come from the preliminary list of players submitted to FIFA in October.