Friday 30 December 2016, 09:53

Quinteros: Valencia has been brilliant

Ecuador coach Gustavo Quinteros is delighted with Antonio Valencia’s form for Manchester United. The 31-year-old right-wingback played just 857 minutes in the 2015/16 Premier League under Louis van Gaal, but has been a first-choice starter under Jose Mourinho and is enjoying arguably his best season since dazzling for Wigan Athletic in 2008/09.

“He’s been brilliant,” said Quinteros of Valencia. “He’s done really well throughout the season. He’s been playing regularly and that gives confidence.”

Quinteros also weighed in on the situation of another Valencia, Enner. The 27-year-old forward went on loan to Everton from West Ham United in August in an attempt to get more playing time.

“Enner is breaking into the team,” said the former Bolivia defender, who did an admirable marking job on Germany’s Karl-Heinz Riedle at USA 1994. “He has to try and make a place his own.”

Antonio Valencia scored a fine goal to put Ecuador en route to a 3-0 victory over Chile in 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ qualifying in October. Enner Valencia has hit 19 goals in just 34 internationals.

Ecuador are third in the South American standings, above Chile on goal difference, Argentina by a point and sixth-placed Colombia by two points. La Tricolor 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 Ecuador into the knockout phase. They 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.