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Soccer-Ecuador sweat on Valencia’s fitness ahead of Netherlands clash

Ecuador is awaiting further tests on veteran striker Enner Valencia before deciding whether he is fit enough to start against the Netherlands in Friday’s clash of the Group A joint leaders, coach Gustavo Alfaro said.

The 33-year-old scored both goals in Ecuador’s opening 2-0 win against Qatar and is crucial to their World Cup hopes, but he limped off late in that game with knee fatigue. “The tests showed that he does not have an injury, but the trauma is very serious. We will look at him this afternoon and decide,” Alfaro told reporters.

“I said the other day that not even fire can stop Enner. If it’s up to him, he’ll play. Let’s give it the benefit of the doubt and hope he responds well in this afternoon’s training.” Alfaro said the pressure is from Ecuador given the Netherlands’ higher position and supposed superiority.

“We have everything to win and nothing to lose,” he said, comparing it to matches against heavyweights Brazil and Argentina in the South American qualifiers. “I’m happy with my team. But Holland is a big opponent,” he added, noting their transformation under coach Louis van Gaal.

“We have to be strong on all fronts, emotionally and physically, and run them hard until they leave the field … What we did against Qatar will be insufficient against Holland or (other Group A opponents) Senegal, we have to improve . ” Midfielder Jhegson Mendez said Ecuador can take heart from some surprise results so far in the tournament, including Saudi Arabia’s loss to Argentina. “Sometimes the favorite can lose. Every game is different,” he said.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)

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