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Ecuador coach Suarez quits after 5-1 defeat

ASUNCION, Nov 17 (Reuters) - Ecuador coach Luis Fernando Suarez resigned on Saturday, immediately after his side were thrashed 5-1 by Paraguay in a World Cup qualifier.

The defeat, the second in a row in which they have conceded five goals, left them bottom of the South American group with no points from three games.

'There are times when, in spite of all the effort, one cannot find what one is looking for and, thinking in the well-being of the Ecuador team, I have taken the irreversible decision to resign,' said Suarez, who led Ecuador to the second round at last year's World Cup.

'My decision has been taken exclusively for the good of the Ecuador team, which will surely have a better campaign without me,' added the Colombian.

Suarez, the first coaching victim of the qualifiers, took over from compatriot Hernan Dario Gomez in August 2004 following the Copa America and led his team to the 2006 World Cup finals.

They proved one of the surprises of the tournament, beating Poland and Costa Rica in the group stage before losing 1-0 to England in the last sixteen.

Ecuador's fortunes took a turn for the worse when they were knocked out in the group stage of this year's Copa America in Venezuela and have made a miserable start to the 2010 World Cup qualifiers amid reports of bickering in the team camp.

'I think that sometimes you don't realise when it's time to go. I feel nothing but gratitude for a great people who have given me the chance to improve myself,' said Suarez.

'I believe I've improved greatly as a football coach and I think of the many things that I've achieved with all the players.'

A former defensive midfielder, Suarez quit playing at 29 to take up coaching where he believed he had a brighter future.

He began with Colombia's Atletico Nacional and also coached Pereira and Millonarios before moving to Ecuador to work as assistant to Francisco Maturana.

He rejoined Atletico Nacional in 1998 and returned to Ecuador in 2003 to coach unfashionable Aucas.