When ecuador play, there won’t be a No. 11 on the pitch. No, not in the dugout either. The country’s football federation retired that jersey after the tragic death of star striker Christian Benitez due to a cardiac arrest last July. He was only 27. Benitez played a key role in the team’s progress to the second round in the 2006 World Cup, and his vast experience will be missed. Coach Reinaldo Rueda has been quietly grooming Enner Valencia to fill the void left behind by Benitez. The midfielder has sparkled in the new role and will be the main target man. In Manchester United’s Antonio Valencia and Jefferson Montero, Reinaldo has two wingers who can dictate play on the flanks. They did not have the best of seasons for their clubs but their pace and skill will come in handy in Brazil. Christian Noboa, who plays for Dynamo Moscow, is another quality player who can morph from defence to attack mode in no time. However, it is in defence, where La Tricolor are having a nightmare. The injury to Jayro Campos has thrown Reinaldo’s plans into disarray and none of the alternatives have inspired any confidence.




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