Chile in tricky Ecuador trip

Chilean player Alexis Sanchez takes part in a National Soccer Team training session at the Juan Pinto Duran complex, in Santiago de Chile, Chile, on March 22, 2016. Chile face hosts Ecuador for their round nine match of the 2018 World Cup qualifier games. PHOTO: MARIO RUIZ/EPA

Chile travel to Quito to face hosts Ecuador in one of the most daunting trips of the South American World Cup qualifiers.

The visitors are attempting to get their faltering 2018 World Cup qualification campaign back on track but face a herculean task in doing so at a venue where they have never won.

Uruguay currently top the standings with 16 points after eight rounds of matches while Brazil and Argentina occupy second and third slots respectively with 15 points.

Brazil has a superior goal-difference to their neighbours.

Colombia are fourth on 13 points, same as erstwhile leaders Ecuador. Paraguay are sixth and Chile lie seventh going into the clash at Quito.

Ecuador has held the top spot of the qualifying tournament’s overall standings during the first few weeks of competitions after winning their first four matches. Then a draw with Paraguay in Matchday 5 snapped their winning run.

From there, La Tricolor is now on a three-game losing slide which dropped the team to the fifth spot of the CONMEBOL table. Only the top four teams at the end of the tourney will outrightly qualify for the global showpiece in Russia.

Head coach Gustavo Quinteros’ side is coming off a stunning 1-2 defeat to lowly club Peru at the Estadio Nacional in Lima on Sep. 6.

Peru winger Christian Cueva opened the scoring with a penalty kick at the 19th before Ecuador defender Gabriel Achilier leveled the count at the 31st to reach the halftime break tied at 1-1.

However, the hosts netted the winning goal at the 78th, courtesy of a strike from midfielder Renato Tapia to hand the Yellows their third consecutive loss.

Meanwhile, Chile has continued its struggles in the World Cup qualifiers after dominating the Copa America Centenario last June.

La Roja was held by lowly Bolivia to a 0-0 draw on Sep. 6 at their own home stadium of Estadio Monumental David Arellano in Santiago for their fifth winless game in the tourney.

Chile is now at the seventh spot of the 10-team table, but they still have a chance of instantly advancing to the World Cup if they can string better performances in the second half of the qualifiers.

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