Football reporters from South and Central America like to address their coaches with particular respect.

They then say “Profe”, or in the full form “Profesor”.

That flatters not only the ears, but also the self-image.

A professor is generally believed to be someone who knows a lot and has solutions ready when it matters most.

In that regard, no coach deserves more verbal flattery than Gustavo Alfaro, professor of Ecuador's squad.

It wasn't just his team's victory over Qatar that was nice to look at, the surroundings afterwards were also a spectacle.

Ecuador's press representatives just waited for the official proceedings, then they all stormed to the podium and surrounded their coach like disciples at a round table.

They shook his hands, some had small gifts, grateful for this game, grateful for this result.

With the victory at the beginning, Ecuador has a good chance of reaching the round of 16.

With a win against the Netherlands (5 p.m. CET in the FAZ live ticker for the 2022 World Cup and on ARD and Magenta TV), they could possibly already qualify.

"Hunters of the Impossible"

Speaking of goals: "The need to run after success without knowing where we are going does not let us get there." The sentence comes from Gustavo Alfaro, it is one of those typical words of wisdom from his mouth, pervaded by subtle melancholy like his native Santa Fé by the arms of the Rio Salado.

Alfaro is Argentinian, born in the small town of Rafaela 60 years ago.

Only moderately gifted as a player in the lower leagues, he became a coach at the young age of 30.

He moved from club to club to really hit the ground running at Arsenal.

Not in London, in Sarandi.

It was at Arsenal de Sarandi that the nation first caught his eye.

He achieved considerable success with the small club, in 2007 they won the Copa Sudamericana together, a counterpart to today's Europa League.

Alfaro moved on, he wanted to see the world: Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Argentina again, he was hired again by Arsenal, and success went with him.

And by the way: the television.

Alfaro's great passion.

Since 2006 he has commented on various tournaments for a Colombian television station, including some world championships.

The viewers fell in love with his voice and his flowery analysis, which was not just about football, because he garnished it with everyday wisdom.

Football as the school of life and vice versa, Alfaro sees everything as a big whole.

His popularity with the people did not go unnoticed by the association either, when a national coach was once again being sought, he was one of the people asked.

Alfaro refused.

He thought he was too close to the Colombians.

“Time gives you the opportunity to learn to distance yourself.

And the distance offers the possibility of a better perspective,” he says.

The better prospects just promoted him to the neighboring country, in 2020 he took over the national team of Ecuador.

The first game was lost, Argentina was too strong, but coach and team found each other quickly and qualified for the tournament in Qatar.

At the celebrations at Guayaquil's Estadio Monumental, he called out to the delighted crowds: "This is the most important moment in my 30 years as a coach." Alfaro wrote a book about that time, of course.

It is called "Cazadores de Utopias Imposibles", which translates as "hunters of the impossible".

That is the narrative under which Ecuador will compete at this World Cup.

Alfaro has stylized himself and his family to the greatest possible outsider, basically without a chance in a group with the host country, the African champions Senegal and the soccer powerhouse Netherlands.

Greatest possible theatre, just the way Alfaro loves it.

Only against Qatar it was clear that his side are anything but outsiders.

More of an insider tip, led by two-time goalscorer Enner Valencia, 33 years old.

The team is otherwise young, Ecuador finished third at the U20 World Cup three years ago.

Representatives of this generation have now moved up to the senior national team and should form a framework there for years to come.

Piero Hincapie, who was captain of the U-17 team in 2019, is even younger.

The Bayer Leverkusen defender is seeded in Ecuador's central defence.

Against the Netherlands he should be challenged for the first time.

A key game for Ecuador on the way to the round of 16.

The team and coach are ready.

Or as Gustavo Alfaro says: "There is nothing that drives you more than having a dream."