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Sat 19 November 2022 | 16:08

Byron Castillo 'will be with us', says Ecuador coach

Ecuador boss Alfaro says that Byron Castillo will be with them in spirit even though he was left out of the squad because of a nationality dispute

Defender Byron Castillo has been a subject of discussion in Ecuador since May when Chilean FA claimed that the defender was born in Colombia rather than

Ecuador

.

Chile’s claim initially put Ecuador’s qualification for the 2022 World Cup in doubt but after FIFA’s investigation was concluded in June, it was reported that the governing body will not take any action. At this point the case was brought to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) which confirmed Castlllo’s birthplace to be in Colombia but dismissed the case since the player was legally recognized as Ecuadorian.

However, Ecuador was hit with a 3-point deduction for their next World Cup qualification campaign because of using a "document containing false information". As a result of all this, Castillo was left out of the Ecuador squad to avoid any "further unfair sanctions".

Ecuador manager Alfaro spoke to the press ahead of the World Cup opener against

Qatar

on Sunday, saying:

"I gave my opinion. He should be here, that's my opinion.

"I expressed my opinion about the CAS decision. I'm head coach, not a lawyer, I expressed an opinion, I talked to lawyers.

"I respect the decisions [of the Federation]. Byron should be here, but I respect the decision. We'll wait to see if they clarify why the three points [deduction] in the next qualifying stage, but the World Cup started in October. If he's ineligible for the World Cup, then he was [ineligible] for [October]. Ecuador is always facing hardship.

"We didn't cap him while the investigation was open. But after two sentences that said Byron was Ecuadorian, we did cap him.

"If you had only seen the pain Byron has had to endure…the love from the squad to Byron, he's now our symbol, and he'll be with us on the pitch even if he's not with us [physically]."

Alfaro also talked with pride about Argentinian coaches’ heritage at the World Cup, saying:

"First of all, as an Argentinian national, a coach, it fills us with pride [to work at a World Cup]," he continued. "In Argentina, the coaches all make a great effort to be professionals and reach this level, especially coaches like me who've had to work from the bottom up.

"I coached in the lower divisions and have a broad experience with different teams. Now this is my first national team [job] and World Cup. Looking back, there are so many famous Argentinian coaches who acted as beacons.

"Myself, Lionel [Scaloni, Argentina coach], Tata Martino [Mexico coach], we want to continue that legacy. It's up to us to represent Argentinian coaches now.

"Many have been in this position before. It's a great privilege for me to be part of that exclusive list of coaches at a World Cup, but on the other hand there aren't that many of us who've been able to coach our team in the opening game.

"Today, I feel very proud to come from Rafaela, to have been part of regional football in Argentina, and also the top division.

"I dreamed of being a coach there when everything felt so hard. I overcame many challenges and hurdles.

"I was told I wasn't good enough, wasn't up to the expectations, but when we dream we are able to achieve, I now have the privilege of being here talking to you."

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