• “The match puts us in a place where we have everything to win and nothing to lose,” Alfaro told a news conference.
•The 33-year-old Fenerbahce forward has been unable to train with the main squad and will be given until the last minute to prove his fitness.
Ecuador head coach Gustavo Alfaro said on Thursday that his team will have nothing to lose against the Netherlands when the teams meet in World Cup Group A.
The Netherlands, who have been runners-up at three World Cups, are firm favorites going into Friday’s match at Khalifa stadium in Doha and received a confidence boost with a 2-0 win over Senegal in their opening game on Monday.
But Ecuador will provide stern opposition, having also begun their campaign with a 2-0 victory in the tournament opener against hosts Qatar on Sunday.
“The match puts us in a place where we have everything to win and nothing to lose,” Alfaro told a news conference. “Nobody knows what will happen. But I’m very confident based on what my team has shown.”
One concern for Alfaro will be the fitness of Enner Valencia, who suffered an ankle injury after scoring both of Ecuador’s goals against Qatar.
The 33-year-old Fenerbahce forward has been unable to train with the main squad and will be given until the last minute to prove his fitness.
“He’s as tough as they come but we’ll see how he is this afternoon,” Alfaro said. “The exams show that he doesn’t have a significant injury and if it’s up to him he’ll play like he always does when we need him. We hope that he responds well [to treatment] today and that he can play from the beginning.”
Alfaro praised the work of his counterpart Louis van Gaal, who he credited for transforming the Netherlands’ fortunes after replacing Frank de Boer as a manager in August last year.
“They are a well-organized team with a lot of individual talent - players that can decide a game on their own,” he said. “When you play against a great time [like the Netherlands] you have to be switched on, both physically and mentally.