Monday 07 November 2016, 15:18

Pineida: Ecuador have players who can hurt Uruguay

Mario Pineida and Librado Azcona are aware Ecuador face an uphill challenge in Montevideo in FIFA World Cup™ qualifying on Thursday, but believe they can pull off the upset. Uruguay have won all four of their home Russia 2018 preliminaries, scoring 14 and conceding zero in the process.

However, Ecuador did win the teams’ first meeting – 2-1 in Quito – and pulled off two-goal victories in Argentina and Venezuela during this campaign. Moreover, La Celeste wll be without the suspended Edinson Cavani, the leading marksman in the South American qualifiers.

“It will be a difficult game because they are a team who play well, even more so at home,” said diminutive fullback Pineida. “In these qualifiers, expect against Peru, who they beat 1-0, Uruguay have been strong at home. They thrashed Colombia 3-0, Chile 3-0, Paraguay 4-0 and Venezuela 3-0.

“They have great . Concentration will be key. We will work hard to counter the Uruguay attack, but we also have players who can hurt them. Ecuador have seized points from difficult .”

Ecuador are third in the South American standings, three points behind Uruguay. Defeat at the Centenario could, however, see them drop to as low as seventh. “We cannot lose,” declared Pineida.

Five days after facing Uruguay, Ecuador host Venezuela, and goalkeeper Librado Azcona has high expectations.

“We will strive for six points,” said the 32-year-old, “but if not then at least four. There is no such thing as impossible in football.”

Ecuador had never qualified for the World Cup until 2002, but have now competed in three of its last four editions. Uruguay have participated in 12 World Cups – a figure bettered only by Brazil (20), Germany (18), Italy (18), Argentina (16), Mexico (15), England (14), France (14) and Spain (14).