On Friday Ecuador kick-off their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign with a tough game against Argentina in Buenos Aires, and 24 year old RENATO IBARRA is hoping that he will be selected to play from the very beginning of the game and not have to sit on the bench as a substitute which has been his fate for sometime now.
IBARRA, a fast-flowing right winger, is frustrated as he seem permanently to occupy a seat on the bench whether it be for the National team, or at Vitesse Arnhem in the Netherlands where he has played since signing for the Dutch Eredivisie (Premier Division) club in 2011.
‘I need to be playing regularly in the 1st team as it then enhances my opportunities to play in the Ecuador National team. Of course I will always give of my best when I am called by the coach (Peter Bosz) to play the last 15 minutes or the last 15 seconds of a game. I work hard in training so my fitness level is good and I am always prepared’ said IBARRA.
The reason for IBARRA spending so much time on the bench can be attributed to the fact that Vitesse signed a 19 year old Albanian winger named Milot Rashica and he has proved to be a revelation with amazing ball control and speed and the coach simply finds it impossible to drop him at the moment.
Alex Renato Ibarra Mina was born in Ambuqui and played as a 16 year old for El Nacional in Ecuador, scoring 3 goals in 31 games before his departure to the Netherlands. His International debut came against Argentina in April 2011 and to date he has notched up 26 appearances for the National team.
After impressing in his first 2 years with Vitesse he signed a 4-years contract in 2013 but now, given his lack of playing time on the field, he would relish the opportunity to move to a club who could offer him 1st team football on a regular basis. ‘If this does not happen then I will see out my contract with Vitesse and always give of my best’, he maintains.
IBARRA has, like many others before him, failed to master the difficult Dutch language but in addition to his native Spanish he also has a good smattering of English.
However it presents few problems on the training ground, given the multi-national make-up of the Vitesse squad which, in addition to Ibarra, comprises players from Serbia, Georgia, Brazil, England, Albania, Zimbabwe, Ukraine and Sweden.
The coach Peter Bosz, still smarting from a recent Dutch Cup game when no less than 3 of his players were, unjustifiably in the opinion of most neutrals, sent-off by an over-zealous referee, barks out his instructions in English!
‘Several of my team mates do speak Spanish so we converse constantly, while my parents are living with me in Arnhem. My girlfriend visits as often as possible from Ecuador but visa regulations means that she can only stay for 2 months on each occasion’ said the diminutive Ecuadorian.
They have two boys aged 6 years and 9 months and he finds it difficult being so far apart from his sons for such lengthy periods.
The climate in the Netherlands also presents a challenge for IBARRA as Quito the Ecuador capital sits on the Equator. ‘It gets very cold here in the winter and it seems even colder when I am sitting on the bench, game after game’ he said laughingly.
Last Sunday IBARRA was not called upon to show his undoubted skills as Vitesse romped to an overwhelming 5-0 victory over F.C. Groningen who are the Dutch Cup holders.
Dominic Solanke, an 18 year old English striker on loan from Chelsea opened the scoring in the 17th minute, prodding the ball into the net after a vicious shot from another on-loan Chelsea player Lewis Baker rebounded off Groningen goalkeeper Padt.
Groningen came close to scoring on several occasions as firstly a powerful shot by Mahi hit the crossbar and later in the half a header by captain Michael de Leeuw suffered the same fate.
Vitesse took command of the game in the 2nd half and increased their lead when right back Kevin Diks seized upon a loose ball in the penalty area and drove it into the net for his first goal for the club.
Groningen who had a long journey to Portugal in midweek for a Europa Cup game totally disintegrated and when their central defender Kappelhof inexplicably slipped, the quicksilver Georgian Valeri Qazaishvilli took full advantage of his error and rounded Padt to make it 3-0.
Substitute Brazilian Nathan de Souza added his name to the score-sheet with an opportunist goal in the 88th minutes before another substitute Abiola Dauda was on hand to steer the ball into the net after a shot by Pantic was only parried by Padt, the beleaguered Groningen goalkeeper.
The 3 points lifts Vitesse into 6th place on 14 points, 5 behind the joint leaders Ajax and Feyenoord.
In Amsterdam two goals from the young Uruguayan Gaston Pereiro, a late call-up to the side, enabled PSV Eindhoven to beat their deadly rivals Ajax by a 2-1 scoreline.
Meanwhile RENATO IBARRA heads off to Ecuador to join his team mates in readiness for the upcoming two important World Cup qualifying games against Argentina and Bolivia, and he hopes to get some valuable playing time on the pitch and not have to sit on the bench as he has for most of the season at Vitesse.
Patrick J. Watts.