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Wednesday, 10 April, 2002, 09:28 GMT 10:28 UK
Ecuador's possible dream
Ecuador's Ivan Kaviedes wheels away after scoring against Uraguay
Ecuador's Ivan Kaviedes celebrates his goal
BBC Sport Online's Tim Vickery

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When Ecuador took the lead against Brazil in a World Cup qualifier in March last year, the crowd spent the rest of the game chanting "Si, se puede."

It was a chorus that said: "Yes, it is possible".

Now they have changed the tense - it has become "Yes, it was possible" because Ecuador have booked their place in the World Cup for the first time.

Last November, they were left with the task of obtaining just a draw at home to Uruguay.

On the morning of the game Ecuadorian TV enjoyed itself by showing a re-run of Uruguay´s previous visit to Quito - a 4-0 drubbing in the France 98 campaign.

But it was never likely to be so easy against the current Uruguay side, who are made of sterner stuff, and boast the best defensive record in the continent.

Ecuador fans celebrate after the game
Ecuador fans dance in the streets

For a while it looked as if tradition might tell as Uruguay frustrated an Atuahalpa stadium which had been packed three hours before kick-off.

The visitors took the lead with a penalty which was won during a rare attack, but one that was worthy of the great Uruguayan teams of the past.

Montero's long ball out of defence was flicked by Recoba into the path of Olivares, who was bundled over by Ecuador centre-back Espinoza.

Olivera himself scored from the penalty, and as is his custom celebrated by showing his Bob Marley T-shirt.

Was there to be no redemption for Ecuador?

Uruguay were calm and determined in defence while Ecuador were over-anxious in attack, wasting opportunities with snatched shots when team-mates were better placed.

The crowd, though, were anxious but never desperate.

They had sung the side to victory against Brazil, helped them come from behind against Paraguay and not turned against on them when theye were outclassed by Argentina.

Open Quote
Now the world will know that we're a country, and not just an imaginary line on the map
Close Quote
An Ecuadorian journalist

The fans kept the faith, but had to suffer a torrid second half when there seemed no way through the Uruguay defence.

I was on the pitch, standing behind the goal Ecuador were attacking, alongside a senior figure from the Ecuadorian FA.

As the game wore on we were both adamant - Kaviedes had to be taken off.

The gifted but enigmatic striker was making no impact on the game.

And then Kaviedes scored the goal that takes Ecuador to the World Cup!

His fortunes changed after Ecuador brought on veteran playmaker Alex Aguinaga.

Injury has resticted his appearances of late but Aguinaga remains a class act.

Ecuador's coach Hernan Dario Gomez after the game
Coach Gomez waves the national flag

Moving to both flanks to find space, he began to deliver the quality service that brought Kaviedes into the game.

Then, 18 minutes from time, the ever-willing Delgado held the ball up and Aguinaga provided the cross for Kaviedes to power home a header.

By now Uruguay, suffering with the altitude, were happy with a point, so it was just a case of waiting for the final whistle.

It means the Ecuadorians woke up the next day euphoric but slightly disbelieving, with a place booked among football's elite.

As one local journalist put it: "Now the world will know that we're a country, and not just an imaginary line on the map".

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