Monday, August 12, 2013

Ecuadorian football ranked higher than venezuelan one, but some attention to it was paid only in South America. Obscure country, so the drama was almost entirely local. Three-stage championship: at first the 10-club league played standard 2-leg tournament. The bottom two teams were relegated and replaced by the best two in the second division. The top three qualified for the final stage, carrying extra points to it: 3 the first placed; two – the second, and a single point the third. El Nacional (Quito) finished first by a point. Tecnico Universitario (Ambato) was second and Emelec (Guayaquil) – third. The last two were LDU (Quito) – goal difference determined the fate of three clubs, and LDU had the worst – and at the last place ended Manta, clearly the outsider – they lost 10 of their 18 championship games. The club scored quite a lot of goals, but the defense was too leaky. These two were replaced by UD Valdez (Milagro) and Bonita Banana (Machala) for the second phase, clubs hardly meaning anything today, for they no longer exist.

The second phase was exact coppy of the first, once again the bottom two relegated and top three carrying points to the final stage. Bonita Banana performed well, ending 5th , but UD Valdez were pathetic and settled on the very bottom with measly 9 points from 18 games. The won a single match and lost 10. Above them finished LDU (Portoviejo), quite surprisingly, for only worse goal-difference denied them third place at the opening tournament.

At the top – no surprises: El Nacional was first again, but only because of better goal-difference. Barcelona, a traditional favourite, finished second, one point above two teams with also equal ponts. Goal-difference placed Tecnico Universitario third and Emelec was forth. Thus El Nacional, Tecnico Universitario, Barcelona, and Emelec composed the final group of 4 teams, competing for the title. The second placed in the fnal tournament got the second Ecuadorian spot for the Copa Libertadores.

El Nacional was starting with good advantage – they carried 6 points from the first two stages. TU had 3, Barcelona – 2, and Emelec – 1. Now the finalists had to play 2-leg round robin mini-championship. The competition was fierse and almost every away match was lost by all contestants. El Nacional was a bit better than the rest, finishing with 3 wins, 1 tie, and 2 losses. Barcelona was slightly worse – 2 wins, 1 tie, 3 losses. The other two teams won 3 matches, but lost also 3. The difference was really made by the bonus points, although El Nacional was first even if there were no additional points. Curiously, the second placed TU ended with negative goal-difference. Emelec scored the most goals.

The final table:

1.El Nacional 6 3 1 2 9- 6 13 [6]

2.Técnico Univ. 6 3 0 3 7-11 9 [3]

3.Emelec 6 3 0 3 12-10 7 [1]

4.Barcelona 6 2 1 3 6- 7 7 [2]

New old champions – El Nacional won third consecutive title, something no Ecuadorian club achieved before. All together, it was their 5th title – great success, considering that the club was founded in 1964 in Quito. But it was not just any club – El Nacional belonged to the Ecuadorian Military. Hence, it was not only well administered and financed, but had considerable weight in Ecuadorian football. One thing making the club attractive to fans was the policy of using only Ecuadorian players – not surprising policy for and army club, but endearing to sentimental public. And because of this policy the most popular nickname of El Nacional is 'Puros Criollos' – 'Pure Creoles', which may smack of nationalism, but also makes sense to many. The full name is typically long and nobody uses it, but it describes popular South American aims of making sporting club socially important gathering place: it is 'Club Social, Cultural y Deportivo "El Nacional"'. More than football, yet, football is the most imporatant part of it. As for rivelries – since the club was young and located in a city with few much older clubs, some 'derbies' were more or less artificially made – those with LDU and Deportivo Quito – but one occured instantly: with Espoli. Espoli belonged to the Police and rivelry between Police and Army happens everywhere. Thus, El Clásico de las Fuerzas del Orden (The Armed Services Derby) was quickly born.

Since Ecuadorian players were largely unknown abroad, little can be said for the strength of the squad – obviously, the policy of recruiting only Ecuadorians worked. And to work, obviously El Nacional had enough money and clout to get the best. To contemporary outsider the nickname may sound hypocritical – the abundance of black and Indian players is hardly 'purely Creol', but such suspicion is nonsense in South American context. Wikipedia credits the goalscorer Fabian Paz y Mino as the most important player of the team, but he is not in the picture. No matter what, highly successful club already.

Tecnico Universitario finished second, although a bit shaky in the final stage. Otherwise, seemingly the close pursuer of El Nacional during the year. Strong season – they captured the second spot alloted to Ecuador in Copa Libertadores.

For the club hailing from the city of Ambato it was great success: the club was founded in 1971! They won promotion to First Division in 1977 and finished second in their very first year among the best clubs of the country. It may apparead to be just enthisiastic season, but the club was ambitious and determined to keep its newly acquared position. Credits were given to players unfortunately little known outside Ecuador:

At least one was a foreigner: the Argentine Jorge 'El Polaco' Bustos, recently coaching Tecnico Universitario. If anything, the great dilemma remained unanswered: teams of local players were successful, but so were those employing foreign feet.