Luis Fernando Suarez enjoys a great deal of respect in Latin America. In an interview with DW-WORLD.DE, Ecuador's national coach seemed confident that his team would score international recognition at the World Cup.
A surprise from Ecuador? Luis Fernando Suarez thinks so
DW-WORLD.DE: In the World Cup group stage, Ecuador faces two manageable opponents, Poland and Costa Rica. Germany may prove to be a more formidable rival. Would you agree?
Luis Fernando Suarez: I don't think the group is out of the ordinary. It's only difficult if you're not well prepared. The fact is that we must only consider ourselves. Being dependent on the others, that would be a problem. We know that it will take a lot of hard work to make it to the next round. But we also know that we have earned the chance to take part in the World Cup.
Before the drawing in Leipzig you said that Germany was the only team you didn't want to play against.
And that shows there are some things you shouldn't say out loud! Actually that wasn't really my wish. I get asked so often about possible opponents that sometimes I just have to name a team and Germany was a logical choice as the host country.
How far will Ecuador make it in the World Cup?
I am hopeful that the team will make it past the first round, after that we'll see. The people in Ecuador will be satisfied with that. But I want more. I would like to see the team place in the top eight. I know how difficult that is, but I also know my troop -- their diligence, their potential, their will. We can do it.
What does Ecuador have going for them that will help them secure a position as one of the eight best teams in the world?
Ecudor's team is all about group spirit
Having a strong community and the conviction that our strength lies in our tactical sense of togetherness. We have no star, no player who can just decide the outcome of a game by himself, or can save the team. Without someone like that, we all learn the value of unity. Sticking together is our strength.
You often emphasize how important it is for Ecuador to stick together. How is this evident?
There are situations that symbolize this attitude. For example, all the players are part of the offense, so that we can move things forward more efficiently. And when we have to play defensively, it's just the same. Tactically, Ecuador is very talented.
Many coaches see Ecuador as a strong opponent and wouldn't put it past them to cause an upset at the World Cup.
That's because they consider us unpredictable. Ecuador hasn’t written World Cup history yet and for the others we're outsiders. If we make it past the first round, it will definitely surprise everyone. Are we a formidable opponent? Yes, no one who plays against us will have it easy. We play aggressively and we know what to do with the ball. Ecuador has many positive things to show, but I don't want to talk about that because I might start sounding like a politician. It's not about what we say but about what Ecuador will do on the field.
Where is Ecuador's strength?
It's not so easy to describe a team like Ecuador. Let's just say, our eleven are technically very talented, and we're very quick on the attack.
Where can Ecuador improve?
The lack of experience playing against Europeans. There are not very many Ecuadorians who have played in Europe and that's why the first few minutes against these opponents will be hard for us. But we're not worried. By the World Cup, we'll know how to play against Germans and Poles.
Isn't it a paradox that at the World Cup you will have to come up against one of your best friends, Alexandre Guimaraes, Costa Rica's coach?
That is completely normal. We both wanted to be here in Germany. Many people don't achieve that. So it's not a paradox but something we both strived for.
What does Luis Fernando Suarez dream of when he thinks about the World Cup?
Germany is my first World Cup. I am on the way to international recognition, which I already have in Latin America. A good World Cup will bring me closer to this goal.
As far as soccer is concerned, what will Ecuador contribute to the World Cup?
It depends on how far we get. If we lose in the first round, then nothing. But if we manage to stay, we will show the world that a new soccer power has developed in Latin America, in addition to Argentina and Brazil.
What can the fans look forward to at the World Cup?
I hope that the teams will show us lots of interesting things for the positive development of soccer. New approaches to playing, new formations are always welcome.
Have you been to Berlin before?
Yes, a great city. I went to Berlin after the drawing in Leipzig. My first impression of Berlin was that it's a modern city with lots of history in every cranny and it invites you to be reflective. It's nice to have such places to play -- especially against Germany.
How far will Germany make it in the World Cup?
Without a doubt, Germany is a favorite, like Brazil, like Argentina, like all the former World Cup champions. The Netherlands too. They have a young, famous team that I like very much.