Ecuador and Uruguay target Qatar World Cup ticket

Montevideo (AFP) – Ecuador will try to break a historic hoodoo on Thursday when they travel to Paraguay in search of the point that will book their ticket to the World Cup in Qatar later this year.

In the previous eight World Cup qualifiers in Paraguay, since 1981, Ecuador have lost everyone.

If they avoid defeat, they will qualify for Qatar 2022 with one game to spare, turning their final home game against Argentina in Guayaquil on March 29 into a celebration that many Ecuadorians thought was impossible at the start of the campaign. .

“This national team deserves double the praise because you have to be very honest, 99.9% of Ecuadorians didn’t think they would qualify for the World Cup,” said Carlos Tenorio, a former international striker who scored twice for Ecuador during the 2006 World Cup in Germany, El Universo told El Universo.

“People still remember Tenorio’s goals in 2006”, when Ecuador reached the round of 16.

“In our time we used to give joy, but now these guys deserve much more and they have much better conditions than us to achieve that.”

Paraguay’s slim hopes of reaching Qatar ended in a 1-0 home loss to Uruguay in late January and a 4-0 defeat in Brazil in early February.

Brazil and Argentina qualified last year and both remain unbeaten in the campaign.

– Uruguay will “make life difficult” in Peru –

The top four teams from the single South American qualifying group automatically earn places in Qatar, while the fifth-place finish up in an intercontinental play-off.

Uruguay can also book their place on Thursday, when they host Peru in Montevideo.

A four-game losing streak had left Uruguay’s hopes hanging in the balance, but the country’s federation sacked iconic veteran coach Oscar Tabarez in November after 15 years – during which he led the side to halftime. -final of the 2010 World Cup and victory at the Copa America a year later.

His replacement, Diego Alonso, got off to a perfect start with the 1-0 win in Asuncion followed by a 4-1 win at home to Venezuela.

A victory over Peru, who are one point behind, coupled with Chile, three points behind, failing to win away against Brazil would ensure Celeste’s ticket to Qatar.

But Alonso knows Uruguay can’t afford to make a mistake with a trip to Chile on the horizon.

Failing to beat Peru would not only jeopardize automatic qualification, but would mean that a defeat in Chile could also see Uruguay miss the play-offs, with Colombia (five points back) also still in contention for a place among the first five. .

“Peru are a team that have been competing at a high level for seven years,” Alonso said.

Peru qualified for the last World Cup in Russia and reached the semi-finals of four of the last five Copa America tournaments.

“All this shows that they are dangerous. We will try to play our game, in areas of the pitch where we feel strong and comfortable, to make life difficult in Peru.

Veteran Uruguay strikers Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani are short of training, struggling for playing time at Atletico Madrid and Manchester United respectively.

Peru will be without experienced attacking duo Paolo Guerrero and Jefferson Farfan.

– Colombia are desperate for a goal –

Chile’s dim hopes of an automatic berth hinge on Thursday’s away win against Brazil hosting Neymar through injury.

“I’ve been waiting for this game for a while,” said veteran Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal, who is coming back from suspension.

Argentina, who host Venezuela at their lowest on Friday, are unbeaten in 29 matches. Even though they had already qualified and rested Lionel Messi in their last two matches, they still beat Chile and Colombia, sapping the hopes of both teams.

Messi is back for the last two qualifiers.

Brazil, also undefeated, was by far the top scorer while boasting the best defense.

Colombia retain an away chance of automatic qualification, but even if they beat Bolivia at home on Thursday and won their final away game against Venezuela, a play-off spot would probably be the most they could hope for.

To win either game, Colombia would have to find a way to end their record seven-game scoreless streak.

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