Valencia earns Ecuador call

Enner Valencia has been named in Ecuador’s preliminary 30-man squad for the 2015 Copa America finals
Enner Valencia has been named in Ecuador’s preliminary 30-man squad for the 2015 Copa America finals.

The West Ham United striker will hope to spearhead his country’s attack in Chile, where the Amarillos will be seeking to win South America’s continental competition for the first time in their history.

Indeed, Ecuador will be happy to get beyond the First Round group stage for the first time since 1997, when they reached the quarter-finals. However, having been placed in Group A alongside the host nation, Mexico and Bolivia.

The No31 is relishing the opportunity of representing his country again.

“I have the Copa America to look forward to with Ecuador in the summer,” he confirmed. “I was at the World Cup last year, so I haven’t had a break, but I’m lucky because I love my profession.

“I love playing football and I am looking forward to ending the season well with West Ham and then going away with the national team to prepare for the Copa America.

“I’m confident that we can have a good tournament because we have a good group of players, a new manager and technical staff and we believe we can do well.”

Valencia himself has been a star in national-team colours since making his debut for the Ecuador national football team on 12 February 2012 in a friendly match against Honduras.

Since then, the 25-year-old has managed eleven goals in 17 caps, including a pre-2014 FIFA World Cup strike against England last year. He also netted three times at the finals in Brazil, including both in a 2-1 win over Honduras.

The San Lorenzo-born forward is one of four British-based players included in Gustavo Quinteros’ squad, joining Manchester United’s Antonio Valencia, Swansea City’s Jefferson Montero and Watford defender Juan Carlos Paredes.

Ecuador kick-off their challenge against Chile in Santiago on 11 June, before taking on Bolivia in Valparaiso on 15 June and Mexico in Rancagua on 19 June.

Quinteros will name his final 23-man selection on 1 June.

Valencia joined West Ham in summer 2014 following a fine club career with Ecuadorean club Emelec, winning the Serie A title in 2013, and Mexican side Pachuca, where he finished as top scorer in the Liga MX and Copa Sudamericana last season.