Ecuador U20 looking to emulate 2001 success.
FIFA U20 World Cup
29 July - 20 August 2011
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Samuel Philip Steinbock
After only conceding five goals during the qualifying campaign in Peru, La Tricolor boasts the best defence of any other competing teams.
At underage level, the fortunes of Ecuador's national teams have been on the rise in recent years, as demonstrated by their gold medal at the 2007 Pan American Games.
However, Ecuador's only prior appearance at the FIFA U-20 World Cup came a decade ago at Argentina 2001 when, under the stewardship of Fabian Burbano, they reached the Round of 16. There they faced a Ghana, including and a young Michael Essien, who beat them 1-0. It was an achievement to qualify out of that group, seeing as they drew 1-1 with a Netherlands side with John Heitinga, Arjen Robben, Maarten Stekelenburg, Klaas Jan Huntelaar and Rafael van der Vaart, all of whom made the 2010 World Cup final squad in South Africa against Spain.
Qualification for Colombia 2011 was far from straightforward though, with the team only securing their passage thanks to a 1-0 win over Chile in the final game of the hexagonal phase in Peru.
If they are to emulate the class of 2001, they will need to keep up their defensive solidarity and with their ability to counter-attack using their speedy wide men, La Tricolor are capable of asking questions of any side in Colombia.