Ecuador and Japan square off at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte tonight at one o’clock after midnight (CET).
The 2019 Copa America group stage ends tonight, as Ecuador face Japan in the final round of Group C in Belo Horizonte.
Both sides are yet to win their first game at the competition, with Ecuador being almost eliminated, sitting point-less at the bottom of the table.
La Tricolor opened their Copa America campaign with a heavy 4-0 defeat against Uruguay, while lost 2-1 to Chile in the second round last Friday.
Japan were also beaten by the Chilean National Team in their opening game at the competition (4-0), but surprised the Uruguayians four days ago, drawing 2-2 with the title contenders.
A win would see the Samurai Blue finish at least on the third place and should be enough for them to qualify for the knockout stage of the tournament.
Ecuador is the only national team at the 2019 Copa America to have seen a red card in each of both games they’ve played in the competition.
Jose Quinteros will return to the starting line-up after sitting out the game against Chile through suspension, but Gabriel Achilier will miss out for the Yellow because of the same reason.
— FEF Ecuador (@FEFecuador) June 22, 2019
Koji Miyoshi was Japan’s hero against Uruguay last Thursday, netting both goals in the 2-2 draw for the Asian side.
Real Madrid latest signing Takefusa Kubo is expected to return to the first team, after starting on the bench in the last outing.
What did they say
Former West Ham striker Enner Valencia who scored the equalizer for Ecuador against Chile believes his teammates made a great effort against the title holders.
“We made a great effort, our mistake is the lack of concentration, that’s why they have scored very naive goals”, he said at the end of the game in Salvador.
“We came here looking for a good result, unfortunately, we couldn’t do it despite the great effort we made. Today we’ve changed our attitude compared to the last game (which we lost 4-0 to Uruguay).”
— jfa_en (@jfa_en) June 21, 2019
Japan boss Hajime Moriyasu complimented his players after the game against Uruguay, saying they had a brave spirit.
“The Japanese players had a lot of courage to play the game, (I celebrate) the defiant spirit they had against a top opponent,” said the Japanese coach via the Copa America official website.
“With the fusion of young and old players, we achieve a structure and form a good team which can win a tie in the Copa America, that will bring us development and confidence.”
Japan and Ecuador have faced each other only once in history, a friendly game back in March 2006, which finished in a 1-0 win for the Samurai Blue.
La Tricolor will be looking to win their first competitive game since October 2016, when they noted a 3-0 victory over Venezuela in a World Cup qualifying game.
Japan, on the other hand, have won six of their nine competitive games in 2019, failing to win all of the last three official matches they’ve played.
They will try to reach the Copa America quarter-finals for the first time in history, after being eliminated in the group stage in their previous participation at the competition.