Profiles - World Cup Teams - Ecuador
Ecuador Ecuador first became involved in international football in 1938. Until November 2001 the story been one of 63 years of almost non-stop frustration.

They managed only four wins in their first 25 years of internationals - against Colombia (1938, 1949 and 1963) and Paraguay in 1959 - and suffered some fearful hammerings on the way.

Brazil twice thumped nine goals past them (9-2 in 1945 and 9-1 in 1949), Peru scored nine against them too (9-1 in 1938) while Argentina beat them 12-0 during a South American championship game in 1942.

Ecuador's best finish in the Copa America was a modest fourth when they hosted the event in 1993 and the nearest they previously came to the World Cup was in 1930 when they were invited to take part - but declined because they did not have a team.

All that is now behind them as the team from the small Andean nation contemplate their first World Cup after finishing second in the 10-team South American qualifying group.

The lack of tradition makes it tempting to write them off. But past performances of Peru, Chile and Paraguay, who have all at some stage provided nasty World Cup shocks for more fancied European opponents, indicates the folly of underestimating them.

Ecuador play the typical South American short-passing game which European sides have always found difficult to play against, the latest illustration being Chile's shock win over world champions France in September.

The darting runs of right-back Ulises de la Cruz, sublime skills of veteran midfielder Alex Aguinaga and the physical prowess of striker Agustin Delgado are all likely to trouble their opponents.

Ecuador's transformation has not come overnight.

The foundations were laid in the early 1990s by Yugoslav coach Dusan Draskovic and Ecuador only missed out on the last World Cup after faltering towards the end of the qualifiers.

Although Ecuador began the current campaign strongly, many wondered how long it would be before they crumbled again.

But coach Hernan Dario Gomez has strengthened the players' mental resolve and this time, instead of crumbling under the pressure, they became stronger as the competition went on.

An away win over Venezuela, a first-ever win over Brazil and further victories in Peru and Bolivia put Ecuador on the brink of the finals, clinching the place with a 1-1 draw against Uruguay.

The campaign was not without its drama and Gomez nearly quit afer he was shot and had his nose broken in an attack in a hotel lobby in the coastal city of Guayaquil.

Gomez resigned and fled back to Colombia but changed his mind after hundreds of Ecuadoreans took to the streets of Quito pleading for him to return. homepage