Ecuador looking to ruin Peru’s celebration of 2018 World Cup qualification

Hernan Dario Gomez, manager of Ecuador's national soccer team. EPA/EFE/FILE

Hernan Dario Gomez, manager of Ecuador’s national soccer team. EPA/EFE/FILE


Peru’s national soccer team on Thursday will celebrate the first anniversary of their first World Cup qualification with a friendly match against Ecuador, whose aim is to rain on their party and simultaneously hone their own team for the next Copa America.

Peruvians will remember the memorable 2-0 triumph over New Zealand on Nov. 15, 2017, in Lima’s National Stadium which qualified them to compete in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Defender Anderson Santamaria recalled the night Peru achieved its greatest sports success of the last 25 years, saying: “For me, it was the happiest day of my life.”

The friendly will also be a tribute to the national fans, who were chosen as the world’s best during The Best of FIFA gala earlier this year for the support they gave to the Peruvian team during the World Cup.

However, the upbeat mood will be overshadowed by the tragic deaths in a traffic accident last Sunday of seven Peruvian youth players, who will be remembered during the game’s introduction.

The match will be the first to be played by Peru on national territory since May 29 when it beat Scotland 2-0, although since then it has played seven games in Russia, the Netherlands, Germany and the US.

Meanwhile, Ecuador once again will face a South American rival after not doing so for a full year since the World Cup qualifiers ended.

With Colombian Hernan “Bolillo” Gomez as coach, the Tricolor romped to 2-0 victories over both Jamaica and Guatemala, but lost to Qatar 4-3 and battled to a scoreless draw against Oman.

Ecuador’s national team arrived in Lima on Monday, but so far they have not been able to assemble the required 24 players, given that Jefferson Montero had to return home on Tuesday to attend his grandfather’s funeral.