Moises Caicedo is also another important figure in the squad, with the promising midfielder expected to drop into the backline when Ecuador are in possession.
The trio were announced as part of Gustavo Alfaro’s squad with less than 7 days to go before the start of the Middle East’s most prestigious football tournament.
Ecuador will take part in the opening match of the competition, facing the tournament hosts at the Al Bayt Stadium on Sunday (November 20).
The South American side are in Group A alongside Qatar, Senegal and Louis Van Gaal’s Netherlands and are currently ranked 19th in the betting odds to win the World Cup, priced at 279/1 .
The Estupiñan of Brighton, who adds 28 games for his selection, plays a major on the left side in Alfaro’s system.
La Tri qualified for the tournament in the last available automatic slot in the CONMEBOL qualifying section, finishing behind Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay after collecting 26 points from their 18 matches.
Having failed to reach the previous tournament in Russia and a disastrous group stage exit from the 2019 Copa America, Ecuadorian football was in crisis for the start of the 2022 qualifying campaign.
Several leadership changes were made in the country’s football association, which saw former Manchester United man Jordi Cruyff step down as head coach of the national team without overseeing a single game in July 2020 .
Argentina’s Alfaro’s appointment surprised many fans and pundits as the 60-year-old had no connection to Ecuadorian football, but his reign has so far been a success.
Jeremy Sarmiento has won nine games so far and could be used effectively off the bench if Alfaro’s side need a goal in the closing stages of any of their group games.
Under Alfaro, Ecuador have mainly set up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, defending deep and breaking quickly from their full-backs, who push up and out when the team has the ball.
Brighton’s Estupiñan, who has 28 caps, plays a major role at left-back in Alfaro’s system, carrying the ball forward and creating chances from crossing positions, while also using his mobility to get back quickly when your team loses possession. .
Estupiñan’s Albion team-mate Moises Caicedo is also another important figure in the squad, with the hope that the promising midfielder will drop into the backline when Ecuador are in possession, allowing the likes of Estupiñan , the winger Gonzalo Plata and the experienced forward Enner Valencia advance up the pitch. .
Alfaro has shown great confidence in the country’s youth development, with an average squad age of 25 being the youngest team to qualify in South America.
Ecuador were South American under-20 champions in 2019 and finished third at that year’s World Cup at the same level, with four of those players selected for the final in Qatar.
The youth work of Caicedo’s former club, Independiente del Valle, has become a world benchmark, with nearly half of the national team having had some previous contact with the current Copa Sudamericana champions ( the South American equivalent of the Europa League).
Ecuador’s young, counter-attacking new team gave them instant success, defeating Uruguay 3-2 and dismantling Colombia 6-1 in the opening rounds of qualifying, setting the stage for a first appearance in the final in eight years.
After drawing 1-1 with Brazil earlier this year, Brazil coach Tite claimed Ecuador could be one of the surprise teams of the tournament.
However, one of Ecuador’s main weaknesses is their ability to score goals, especially in open play, having scored just two goals in their last five friendlies.
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However, they have only conceded one, with a clear priority on defensive shape and putting men behind the ball to succeed in matches.
In qualifying, La Tri had the most set piece shots (70), the highest set piece XG (7.57) and 35% (8 goals) of their goals coming from set piece situations.
Strikers Michael Estrada and all-time top goalscorer Enner Valencia have been struggling for form of late, which could mean Brighton’s latest squad member Sarmiento could play a big part in Qatar this winter.
The exciting young striker has won nine trophies so far and could be used effectively from the bench if Alfaro’s side need a goal in the closing stages of any of their group games.
Ecuador will face Qatar at 16:00 on Sunday, November 19.