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Friday, 3 May, 2002, 09:39 GMT 10:39 UK
The true Ayovi steps forward
Ecuador coach Hernan Dario Gomez
Herna Dario Gomez stuck with the names he knew

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The one surprise inclusion in Ecuador's first World Cup squad was that of left-sided midfielder Walter Ayovi.

Not because of any lack of talent - Ayovi is a player of considerable prowess.

He is strong on the ball and a skilful dribbler in tight spaces. He has a booming left-foot shot and his marking is good enough to make him an option for the left-back position.

The surprise comes from the fact that his short career is already packed with controversy.

Until 18 months ago he was playing under the name of Walter Corozo, with false documents stating that he was three years younger than his genuine age.

The fraud was discovered, and Ayovi served a six month suspension before making a comeback under his real name.

Now 22, he spent the first few months of this year in conflict with the Emelec club, and has precious little football behind him.

But coach Hernan Dario Gomez admires Ayovi's ability, and with left-footed players in short supply, is prepared to forgive the misdemeanours of the past and take the player to Japan.

Ayovi is one of nine midfielders named in the squad.

It may well be too many, particularly as Gomez is taking just three specialist centre-backs.

There is very little cover should Ivan Hurtado, Augusto Poroso or Geovanny Espinoza pick up injuries or suspensions.

It makes the absence of Jorge Guagua difficult to explain.

Just 20, Guagua was the star of Ecuador's side in last year's World Youth Cup.

He soon stepped up to the senior side, and did not look out of his depth.

Jorge Guagua
Guagua was unlucky to miss out
Guagua has also been picking up valuable experience with the El Nacional club in the Copa Libertadores, South America's Champions League.

An extra advantage is his versatility. Guagua is also proficient in the midfield anchor role, where he played so well for Ecuador's under-20s.

At international level, though, his future would seem to be at centre-back, a problem position for Ecuador in recent years.

Time and time again Gomez has stressed that Ecuador are going to the World Cup in order to learn, to improve and to build for the future.

Guagua would seem set to be an important part of that future.

Even if Gomez did not intend to play Guagua, the youngster would surely benefit from the experience of being part of the squad for the most important tournament in the history of Ecuadorean football.

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