Not so long ago, the headline of an article on FIFA.com read: “Mina brings a historic end to Ecuador”. When we asked Johan Mina at the team hotel in Vitoria, he looked confused for a moment, and even the press spokesman for the Ecuadorian Association looked confused. Historic goal? Ecuador? The South Americans are preparing for their last 16 games against Italy at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Brazil 2019 ™ and hope that it will be some time before their campaign comes to an end.
To illustrate, La Tricolor won a bronze medal at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Poland just a few months ago. The whole country enthusiastically celebrated the triumph of coach Jorge Celico’s offspring, and even Ecuador’s president congratulated the team via Twitter as soon as the final whistle blew.
This enthusiastic reaction was no surprise as it was the first medal Ecuador ever won at a FIFA tournament. Johan’s namesake Richard Mina scored the only goal of the game in extra time to secure the victory. Your opponents on this day? Italy.
“Of course I followed the tournament and watched the games at home,” Johan recalled smiling at FIFA.com. “It was a fantastic performance for our country, Ecuador lost 1-0 to Italy in the group stage, but we won when it really mattered, and it would be great if we could do the same here in Brazil.”
Mina and his compatriots will meet their Azzurrini colleagues on Thursday. “It’s a strong team and we know what’s expected of us.”
Unlike Richard, a defender who is usually assigned to stop goals, Johan is responsible for achieving them. With six goals, he was the most successful scorer in the South American qualifying competition. With two goals and a template he is already the best rated player of his team in Brazil.
It was Mina who scored the winner four minutes before the end with a 3-2 win in the decisive third group match of his team against Hungary and Ecuador finished in the second round.