Ecuador lacks sharpness in training session ahead of Panama friendly


Ecuador's national soccer team lacked sharpness in an initial practice here Saturday ahead of a friendly against Panama, with the players repeatedly misfiring in a shooting drill.

With new head coach - and former Panama manager - Hernan Dario "Bolillo" Gomez looking on, the Ecuadorian players worked in two separate groups at Estadio Maracana: one overseen by assistant coach Edgar Carvajal and the other guided by physical trainer Elkin Sanchez.

The group working with Carvajal practiced finishing into an empty net and against a goalkeeper but clearly lacked precision during one round of more than 20 shots on goal.

A smaller group of players worked with Sanchez, most of whom were doing recovery work after seeing action on Thursday in Ecuador's 2-0 friendly victory over Peru in Lima.

Gomez, who led Panama to its maiden World Cup appearance in Russia, said upon arrival that he was pleased to be back in the Central American country and also had words of praise for the Panamanian squad and its interim manager, Gary Stempel.

"Stempel's team is an established team. There's a foundation that was developed during the last (World Cup) qualifying. Gary's a serious, hard-working guy, and I think they're on the right path," the Colombian head coach said.

The South American squad will hold a second training session Saturday afternoon at Estadio Maracana and then practice (possibly behind closed doors) on Sunday at Panama City's Estadio Rommel Fernandez, the venue for Tuesday's friendly.

The team then will hold a final training session on Monday.

Tuesday's friendly will be the last of 2018 for Ecuador, which failed to qualify for this year's World Cup.

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