Ecuador`s football team feted for reaching World Cup finals
Quito: The Ecuadorian government paid tributes to the national football team for qualifying for the 2014 Brazil World Cup by winning one of the coveted direct tickets offered only to South America`s top four teams.
President Rafael Correa presided over the celebration Thursday that drew hundreds of cheering fans to the Quito`s Independence Square, many wearing the team`s yellow jersey and with faces painted in the colours of the flag.
Team coach Reinaldo Rueda and members of the team, known as the "Tricolor" or "Tri" for short, took part in the event, except those contracted by foreign clubs.
"On behalf of the entire country, thank you very much dear Tricolor," Correa said.
The fans who had gathered there gave the team a standing ovation and sang, "Long live Ecuador! Long live the players of the Tri!"
"The success we are celebrating is not an accident, it is the result of a process and of dedication (and) sacrifice on the part of our players, because they always gave their all on the field, they have always been winners no matter what the score," Correa said in a joyful and moving speech.
Tuesday, Ecuador secured the fourth direct ticket to Brazil in what was the final game of the South American Qualifying Tournament. Despite losing 1-2 against Chile in Santiago, the team had garnered enough points (25) and goals (+4) earlier in the tournament.
Uruguay came in fifth place, and will have to go to playoffs against Jordan for a chance to advance to Brazil.
Ecuador has previously qualified for the World Cup only twice, South Korea-Japan 2002 and Germany 2006.