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And A Happy Ending…

From Ecuador News
June 18-24
By Jorge Ribadeniera Araujo

So many questions bounced around in my head on Monday, June 3 when Ecuador made its debut in Sapporo. How would the team–or the country, more like it–fare in its first World Cup? There wasn’t time to think it over, as Italy launched into attack and made the first goal. And now? These have been difficult days. We were full of emotion and unease until June 13th arrived and gave us a win against Croatia. These past ten days have been very special.

Now it turns out that our win against Croatia kept Italy in the tournament. But that is not what is most important. The Ecuadorian team–the whole country–came out of the cup with heads held high, and this keeps all of our spirits up.

The fact that the "blues", Italy, are saying, "Thanks, Ecuador, we owe our classification to you," is more like a signal that something is going on in world soccer. It is interesting that the sons of Signore Trapattoni are still alive thanks to Edison Mendez and his boys.

Ecuador came out of the series with dignity intact. To come out of a contest with Italy, Mexico and Croatia in this way is a great sign. It shows that we made another historic move, besides qualifying for our first World Cup. Some fans are saying that Ecuador should have tied with Italy and beat Mexico, or something of that sort. The truth isn’t so overwhelming but it is still satisfying. The team’s officials, trainer and players deserve our recognition, without a doubt.

The other interesting thing about this World Cup is our encounter with Japan, a country so far away from Ecuador. We only knew Japan for such things as its technology, role in the Second World War, Hiroshima, and Ecuadorian visitors were very impressed with the country and its way of life. Some visitors are now thinking of writing a proposal recommending that Ecuador adopt some of the principles of Japanese life. They are more punctual and more disciplined, making a country that is better respected each day.

It will be difficult for Ecuador, which at times seems to live at peace with its problems, to follow this example. Our country proclaims again and again that it is necessary to better our education, but does little to actually make improvements and become efficient.

Soccer is an activity, since a single goal is watched around the entire world, where everyone strives to improve, instead of accepting mediocrity. In soccer, efficiency is sought with interest, even with frenzy. And in this, Ecuador wasn’t left behind. We need to recognize how our team took on these responsibilities.

The fans may be right when they say that we could have hoped for more from our team. But the most important thing to remember is that we proved ourselves. Our win that night in Yokohama was very special. Watching Ecuador win a game in the World Cup against a top team in front of more than 60 thousand fans, with half of the world following the players’ every move on television was amazing. We said farewell to the tournament, bringing back all of the good memories and one very sad one. The sad night that we lost against Mexico won’t go away, but the rest has been so positive.

Translated from Spanish by Erica Pearson

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