World Cup: Felipe wants a Benitez tribute

World Cup: Felipe wants a Benitez tribute
Ecuador forward Felipe Caicedo.

The World Cup will be tinged with sadness for Ecuador, who will play in the memory of striker Christian Benitez after he died tragically during the qualifying campaign.

Benitez, known as Chucho by his teammates, passed away last June aged 27 following a heart attack he suffered shortly after moving to Qatar to play for El Jaish.

He had been a key player in earning La Tricolor's place at the tournament with four goals in qualifying and Ecuador took the decision to retire his number 11 jersey as a mark of respect.

With the motivation of honouring the 58-time capped striker firmly uniting the side, Ecuador will enter the tournament aiming to improve on their best performance to date, which came in Germany 2006 when they reached the last 16.

La Tricolor were knocked out by England on that occasion after beating Poland and Costa Rica, but their experience of the testing conditions in South America and the fact they picked up 22 of their 25 qualifying points in the rarefied air of Estadio Olimpico Atahualpa in Quito -- the highest capital city in the world --shows they have what it takes to be tricky opponents.


Brazil 2014 will be the third World Cup finals for Ecuador following their qualification in 2002 and 2006, and this time they will face Switzerland, France and Honduras in Group E.

The draw seems to be a favourable one on paper and could be argued to be the most wide open group in the competition, giving Reinaldo Rueda's men a real chance of progressing to the knockout stages.

Seven qualifying home wins and a draw with Argentina in Quitomade sure of their place in the draw, with former Manchester City, Malaga and now Al Jazira forward Felipe Caicedo leading the goalscoring charts with seven.

The 25-year-old left-footed striker was Ecuador's top scorer in World Cup qualifying and is versatile in that he can also play in the middle or on the wing.

He will certainly be motivated for the tournament, wanting to pay adequate tribute to Benitez.

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