Chris Hughton, the chosen man! AT long last, Ghana has a new ‘sweat merchant.’ It was long predicted.
• Hughton – Can he fly the Stars back to glory?
On Sunday night, the Ghana Football Association (GFA) announced the appointment of Chris Hughton as chief coach of the Black Stars with majority of Ghanaians applauding the decision.
The FA insisted that Hughton’s engagement was in line with its vision to continue with the project of building a formidable squad that started with Otto Addo (his predecessor) in the lead-up to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 tournament.
It was only wise dashing for someone who has been with the team and understands the system better.
That many Ghanaians – both home and abroad, actively took to social media to welcome the 64-year-old coach to the hot seat, copiously proved the backing for him.
On the reverse, others think Hughton – who until his appointment, was the Technical Advisor of the Black Stars, could be used by the leadership of the FA for their own ‘selfish’ interests. This assertion has also been contested vigorously by a section of the public, insisting that the former Birmingham City, Norwich City and Brighton and Hove Albion handler can be his own man.
It must be hammered home that Hughton has been with the Stars for the past 12 months and was with the team when it crashed out in the group stage of the Qatar tournament. Remarkably, though, the newly-appointed handler would be assisted by former Aston Villa, Middlesbrough and Holland midfielder George Boateng as well as Mas-Ud Didi Dramani – both of whom the FA has decided to maintain. The three coaches were part of the technical team for the World Cup in Qatar.
Hughton’s immediate task is to lead the Stars to face Angola in a March double-header in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifications in Cape Coast and Luanda respectively. The Stars share top spot of Group E with Angola on four points from two games, three above the Central African Republic and Madagascar.
Having had the opportunity of being with the Black Stars briefly, Houghton should have an unmistakably fair impression about the intricacies in building a formidably winsome national team.
He had maintained in various interviews that the Ghana team was loaded with a stream talents which could be harnessed to bring a lot of glory to the country.
We have heard in many areas some of his brilliant pieces of advice were not taken by his predecessor. Well, today, he is now in charge and Ghanaians would be thrilled to see the ‘special’ thing he is bringing on board.
As many have stated, he has to be his own man and be prepared to take the bold decision of resigning at a point, if he thinks he is being used and tossed like a puppeteer on a string.
Truth is that Hughton, son of an Irish mum and Ghanaian dad, has such impressive credentials and experience at the highest level of club football, and people would be eager to see how best he translates that rich reservoir of experience into the national team.
One thing is sure: many people would not have the patience to wait. For them, he must hit the ground running and deliver immediately when the Stars take on Angola in their first game at the Cape Coast Sports Stadium in March.
The immediate task, doubtless, is qualifying Ghana for the AFCON next year in Cote d’Ivoire and clinching it in grand style, after 41 years in the doldrums.
What we ought to do now is offer Hughton all the needed backing. He needs it now. If we have to criticise him, why not; but it must be done constructively.
By John Vigah