Ecuador offers lots of attacking options at WCup

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 31, 2014 at 12:39 pm •  Published: May 31, 2014
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QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — Manchester United winger Antonio Valencia, by far Ecuador's best-known player, will be joined by some other up-and-coming attackers that could shine at the World Cup in Brazil.

The main doubt for Ecuador is more likely to be in defense, where the team has no Europe-based players.

That could be a problem in Group E, where France is a heavy favorite and second place will be fought over by Ecuador, Switzerland and Honduras.

Here are five players to watch:

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FELIPE CAICEDO

Christian Benitez's death on July 29, 2013, tore up Ecuador coach Reinaldo Rueda's plans for his team's attack and made Felipe Caicedo's role increasingly important.

Caicedo, who plays for Al-Jazira in the United Arab Emirates, is now the main central striker. He has experience playing for Manchester City in the Premier League and with Spanish club Malaga.

The 25-year-old Caicedo debuted for Ecuador when he was 16 and is known for his strength, speed and ability to hold up play.

Caicedo scored seven goals in nine appearances in South American qualifying.

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ANTONIO VALENCIA

A lot of responsibility for Ecuador's performance at the World Cup lies with right winger Antonio Valencia, who joined Manchester United in 2009.

Valencia, whose nickname in Spanish is "the train" due to his speed, will be charged with providing opportunities for Caicedo, as well as tracking back to help out the defense.

The Manchester United player starred for Ecuador the last time it reached the World Cup in 2006, after which he joined Wigan. He is known for his down-to-earth demeanor and work ethic.

Valencia was deeply affected by the death of Benitez, a long-time friend who had been his teammate at Ecuadorean club Nacional and with the national team. He even tattooed his image onto his arm.