Enner Valencia scored Ecuador’s last six goals at the World Cup, so it can’t be underestimated how concerned his country was after he was carried off the field on a stretcher against the Netherlands.
Ecuador will be hoping the 33-year-old striker’s knees will be okay for a crucial final group match against Senegal on Tuesday. He injured his right knee against the Netherlands after injuring his left knee in the first match against Qatar.
He was awake and walking slightly after riding on a stretcher with an ice pack strapped to his right leg.
“Let’s hope,” Valencia said.
The Ecuador captain scored three goals in two matches in Qatar and is clearly key to their chances of reaching the knockout stage for only the second time. He scored three goals in three matches in Ecuador’s last World Cup appearance in 2014, but it wasn’t enough to progress in Brazil.
La Tri has a slight advantage this time around needing a win or a draw to be sure to move forward. Senegal must win to make sure they progress.
Hosts Qatar’s victory over the Netherlands would make possible other changes in Group A, but that outcome is seen as unlikely given the struggles of the Qataris. They have already been eliminated.
An extended stay at the World Cup will result in increased stress on Valencia’s knees and a persistent ankle problem, but there is no doubt that he will carry some of the World Cup joy after 10 years of service to the national team.
“Good people like Enner deserve good things,” said Ecuador coach Gustavo Alfaro. “He worked so hard for this.”
A young Ecuadorian national team beat Qatar 2-0 in the opening match of the tournament, then boosted the favored Dutch team with a 1-1 draw.
Alfaro said “No matter what happens in the next match, I will never change my mind about these guys. I’m sure a great future awaits them. They are fighting their first fights.”
While Ecuador is hoping for Valencia’s fitness, Senegal have already gone into two matches without their MVP.
An injury to Sadio Mane just two weeks before the World Cup has forced the African champions to completely reshape their attacking line and game plan.
He was still in progress in the opening 2-0 loss to the Netherlands, but Senegal came close to fully adjusting to Mane’s absence when strikers Boulaye Dia, Famara Didiou and Bamba Dieng all scored in a 3-1 win over Qatar to revive Senegal. opportunities.
Ranked 18th in the world and fresh from winning the Africa Cup of Nations title in February, Senegal are usually favorites over inexperienced No. 44 Ecuador, even with Valencia’s extraordinary record in four of the last five World Cups in Ecuador. Toys.
It has never been so simple at the World Cup and certainly not at this World Cup after seed 3 Argentina lost to Saudi Arabia and 2 seed Belgium lost to Morocco.
“Just look at how the World Cup develops,” said Senegal coach Aliou Cisse. “I think anything can happen in this World Cup. It’s not like 30 years ago when the big fish would eat the small fish alive.”
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