Oct 06, 2016

    Chile face high-stakes fight 2.7km above sea level


    CHILE face a daunting trip to Ecuador on Thursday (tomorrow, 5am Singapore time) as they attempt to get their faltering 2018 World Cup qualification campaign back on track at a venue where they have never won.

    After eight rounds of South America's marathon qualifying campaign, two-time Copa America champions Chile are languishing in seventh place, two points adrift of Ecuador in fifth.

    With back-to-back Copa America victories in 2015 and 2016, the Chileans have been the dominant force in competitive South American football in the past year.

    Despite being able to call upon the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal and Claudio Bravo, Chile have stumbled from one setback to the next so far.

    While there is still plenty of time for Chile to turn their campaign around, they can ill afford to lose further ground in what is expected to be a tight battle for places.

    Chile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi has recalled playmaker Jorge Valdivia following a 10-month exile while Bravo, Sanchez and Vidal are all expected to start at Quito's Estadio Olimpico Atahualpa, which is some 2,740m above sea level.

    Chile, like many visitors to the stadium, have often struggled in the thin air and so far have not won a competitive fixture at the arena.

    Ecuador, meanwhile, head into the game looking to rediscover their winning habit.

    After starting qualifiers with four straight wins, Ecuador have taken only one point from their last four games.