- Enner Valencia – Goals: 35
- Agustin Delgado – Goals: 31
- Eduardo Hurtado – Goals: 26
- Christian Benitez – Goals: 25
- Alex Aguinaga – Goals: 23
Ecuador National Football Team History
The Ecuador National Football Team first took part in the 1938 Bolivarian Games. Their first ever match finished in a 1-1 draw vs. Bolivia. In La Tri’s next match they scored their first-ever win, a 2-1 triumph over Colombia.
Ecuador finished their first tournament with a Bronze medal. Later, they earned fourth place at the South American Championship in 1959. After the tournament, La Tri played in World Cup Qualifiers for the first time. La Tri have never won a Senior honor but their amateur team managed to win gold at the 1965 Bolivarian games.
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Still, the 1970s and 80s were a trying period for Ecuador. They failed to make it out of the Group Stage in five Copa Americas held during those two decades. In 1993 a new look Ecuador squad with legends like Alex Aguinaga and Ivan Hurtado finished fourth at the Copa America on home soil. A home and away format change ahead of 1998 World Cup qualifiers proved to be fortuitous for Ecuador. As Quito is one of the highest altitude capital cities in the world, Ecuador had a pronounced home field advantage. They failed to qualify for the 1998 World Cup but their fortunes changed when they hired Hernan Dario Gomez to take over the team ahead of 2002 qualifiers.
First World-Cup Berth
During the campaign, Ecuador National Football Team beat Brazil for the first time ever and they finished second in CONMEBOL to Argentina. Their second-place standing clinched their first World Cup berth and forward Agustin Delgado was joint top scorer in qualifiers. In that first World Cup appearance, La Tri were eliminated in the group stage; however, they managed an upset win over Croatia as winger Edison Mendez scored the game’s only goal. Gomez was replaced by Luis Fernando Suarez after the 2004 Copa America and he led them to a second consecutive World Cup. At Germany 2006, Ecuador qualified for the knockout stage for the first time in their history.
The 2014 Cup Incident: Death of a Top Scorer
In 2013, active national team player Christian Benitez died due to cardiac arrest. Benitez, who was one of Ecuador’s top five scorers all-time, had his number 11 jersey retired following his passing. Due to FIFA rules, his number had to be worn at the 2014 World Cup and it was taken by Felipe Caicedo. Enner Valencia scored all three of Ecuador’s goals at the tournament. Ecuador managed an impressive draw vs. France but they were eliminated as they finished the Brazil 2014 group stage with one win, a draw and a loss.
La Tri qualified for Qatar 2022 with a fourth place finish in CONMEBOL despite failing to win a game at both Copa America 2019 and 2021.
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