Jeremy Sarmiento has set his sights on Qatar – after hitting the right note on and off the pitch with Ecuador. The Albion prospect, who has yet to appear in the Premier League, made his full international debut as a sub in a World Cup qualifier versus Bolivia. He went on just after the hour as Ecuador, inspired by Moises Caicedo, won 3-0 in Guayaquil. Ecuador were already three up and cruising by the time Sarmiento entered the action. The 19-year-old has been capped at youth level by England and was close to an under-15 appearance for Ecuador.
Jeremy Sarmiento said: “I have always wanted to play for the Ecuador national team and this has been going on for some years. I didn’t expect to make my debut today but in the end, it happened.”
Ecuador visit Venezuela this weekend and then move on to Colombia. They remain well-placed in the arduous and fiercely competitive CONMEBOL qualifying competition for next year’s World Cup.
Jeremy Sarmiento said: “If we continue like this, we will go to the World Cup.”
Speaking in Spanish, he called on the team to “give it some neque” in the coming games, using a colloquial word popular in South America, particularly Ecuador. It essentially means a combination of strength, courage and desire. Sarmiento’s choice of vocabulary appears to have delighted many fans who questioned the Madrid-born, London-raised teen’s allegiance to their nation. Ecuador coach Gustavo Alfaro sees Sarmiento as a bright prospect.
Gustavo Alfaro said: “We had a comfortable night because the team was solid defensively. Jeremy Sarmiento is adjusting to this reality of the national team. It was a nice possibility to be able to play him. He has enormous growth potential.”
Caicedo, the Albion midfielder on loan at Beerschot, played the first 78 minutes. He looked sharp as he set up the team’s second goal, for Enner Valencia, with a brilliant piece of skill and measured pass. It was Valencia’s first international goal for almost two years and made him his nation’s all-time leading scorer with 32.
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