LAFC's Jose Cifuentes backs Ecuador to cause a shock at the World Cup

‘We’ve got a good group’: Fresh from LAFC’s MLS Cup glory, Jose Cifuentes backs Ecuador to cause a shock at the World Cup ahead of the tournament opener against hosts Qatar

  • Jose Cifuentes says Ecuador knew they’d make Qatar ‘from that first call-up’
  • LAFC teammates Sebastian Mendez and Diego Palacios also made the roster
  • Ecuador is a young team but players say that perceived lack of experience is driving them toward greater things as they hope to shock the world
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When Ecuador kick off the World Cup against host nation Qatar tomorrow, they’ll do so with multiple MLS Cup winners coming along for the ride.

Los Angeles FC’s 23-year old midfielder José Cifuentes recently opened up on his nation’s qualification campaign and the fourth ever World Cup appearance for La Tri to MLS media.

Ecuador was able to survive staring down a tough CONMEBOL qualifying campaign and finished fourth behind Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay. 

LAFC midfielder Jose Cifuentes believes Ecuador has the ability to shock the world in Qatar

‘I think from that first call-up when we met and arrived at training … we looked at each other and we realized we’ve got a good group,’ Cifuentes said.

‘We’ve got good players and [thought] this is going to be a beautiful qualifying process.’

Cifuentes and his LAFC teammates Sebastián Méndez and Diego ‘Chiqui’ Palacios will be on the roster – alongside 2019 MLS Cup winner Xavier Arreaga of the Seattle Sounders.

Ecuador’s squad is young – the third-youngest at the World Cup behind Ghana and the United States.

Sebastian Mendez (32) says this young team has ‘confidence’ in a new coach at the World Cup

But to some of the players, that youthful nature of the team won’t be a disadvantage.  

‘I think that in the beginning, no one trusted maybe that such a young team could do what we did,’ Méndez said. ‘But there is a very important factor named [manager Gustavo] Profe Alfaro.

‘From that moment, to have the confidence of a new coach who didn’t care how old you were and played you, I think we realized that we could put together a good group.’

Diego Palacios says this Ecuador team feels like a family – one that ‘you’d kill for’ in Qatar

That group has a chip on their shoulder and a determination to shock the world, starting with a strong performance in Group A.  

‘Family is family,’ Chiqui said. ‘You’ll kill for a brother. And that’s the feeling around this national team.’

Following Qatar, Ecuador faces the Netherlands then Senegal as they try to reach the knockout stage for the second time in their history.

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