Wednesday 14 December 2016, 19:38

Noboa: Ecuador winning at home is extremely important

Cristhian Noboa thinks Ecuador’s next two qualifiers could determine whether or not they reach the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™. Gustavo Quinteros’s side are third in the South American standings, above Chile on goal difference, Argentina by a point and sixth-placed Colombia by two points. Ecuador are away to Paraguay and at home to Colombia in March.

“I think we have good games now that could give us a boost determining a lot of things, with Paraguay in Asuncion and Colombia in Quito,” the 31-year-old Rostov midfielder told Super K-800. “They could be defining results. I hope we have a full squad, that nobody gets injured, that everybody arrives playing , which is very important."

Ecuador have collected 13 points from a possible 18 in Quito in Russia 2018 qualifying, and Noboa reckons their remaining home games against Colombia, Peru and Argentina will be decisive.

“I think winning our home games will be extremely important, will be very tough," he said. "We have the team, we have the players.

“Sometimes the results don’t help you – it’s normal. We’ve dropped important points. We’ve won a lot of points and kept ourselves in the qualification zone.”

Ecuador had never qualified for the World Cup until 2002, but have now competed in three of the last four editions.

Their best showing came at Germany 2006 when Carlos Tenorio and Agustin ‘Tin’ Delgado inspired a 2-0 win over Poland and a 3-0 reverse of Costa Rica that sent La Tricolor into the knockout phase. Ecuador were the heavy underdogs against an England side featuring David Beckham, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney in the Round of 16, but their strikers troubled John Terry and Rio Ferdinand throughout, with Tenorio hitting the crossbar. Ultimately, however, Luis Fernando Suarez’s men were undone by a Beckham free-kick.