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Ecuador must capitalize on bright future after South American U20 Championships win

Ecuador
Ecuador won the South American Under-20 Championships on Sunday.

Ecuador's first ever title in the South American Under-20 Championships is a surprise development -- but one which is entirely welcome.

Sometimes "off the curve" results such as this one have to do with home advantage. Not this time. The tournament, which came to a gripping conclusion on Sunday, took place in Chile. In the last round, Argentina only needed a draw against a desperately disappointing Brazil to seal the title. But they went down 1-0 -- a result that did none of the old rivals too many...

Who might emerge -- as Messi once did -- at South America Under-20 Championships?

In 2005, South America's under-20 tournament proved a springboard for Lionel Messi to U20 Wrld Cup and global stardom.

Venezuela are the only South American nation never to have made it to a World Cup. But they are convinced that their time will come in 2022 -- and their optimism is based on much more than mere faith. Two years ago they went to the final of the Under-20 World Cup, where they missed a penalty before losing 1-0 to England.

In Venezuela, they believe this generation will carry them all the way to Qatar -- an illustration of the importance that South America attaches to its under-20 teams.

There is...