Hughton needs our full backing to succeed

Hughton needs our full backing to succeed

• Hughton (centre) and some of his Black Stars players

On Monday – March 20, 2023, Chief Coach of the Black Stars – Chris Hughton, was officially un­veiled to Ghanaians at the SC Mall in Kumasi in the Ashanti Region.

The outdooring took place three days ahead of the coach’s first official assign­ment at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi where he led the Stars to pip Angola 1-0 on a nervy Nations Cup qualifying afternoon.

Many commentaries have been made about the near-dawdling performance in that home game, the first by the Ghana team since their ill-fated World Cup in Qatar 2022.

But whilst many had their eye on the game, others too were concerned about the absence of the Ghana Foot­ball Association (GFA) boss and his deputy during the unveiling of the 64-year-old coach.

“We are utterly surprised not to see the GFA president Kurt Okraku and his vice Mark Addo at the introduction of the coach, and that sends a lot of signals,” was the voice of one of the many fans who called on a radio sports pro­gramme.

Even though the GFA Com­munications Director Henry Asante Tsum was fully repre­sented, the fans think “it was dolefully not enough.”

The impression that is being bandied around is that the FA failed to be around to ‘grace’ the occasion because Hughton was not their choice but that of the government.

It might not exactly be the truth, but the multi-mil­lion-dollar question on the lips of Ghanaians is that when was the last time the GFA top brass – right from the halcy­on days of Kwesi Nyantakyi, failed to attend the unveiling of a new Black Stars coach?

Some assert that the FA would have loved to have a coach other than Hughton for the Stars’ job – reason for which it opened applications for that purpose. However, following successful negoti­ations with the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the FA – the man who has been in charge of the team since the exit of Otto Addo – was fully endorsed.

Whatever the case, what is needed now is giving Hugh­ton the all-embracing support and backing to succeed. The FA, clearly, must not lose sight of the fact that when Hughton succeeds, the FA succeeds too; when he fails, they fails as well.

Having served as Tech­nical Advisor of the Black Stars through to the Qatar World Cup, the Ghanaian-Irish should have an appreciable amount of knowledge about the players and what could be done to improve on their performance and ultimately revive the dwindling fortunes of Ghana football at the international level.

The performance of the team in their reverse fixture in Luanda against Ango­la strappingly suggested a brighter future awaits the nation’s football with Hugh­ton in charge.

Unlike what we were getting accustomed to by his predecessors, the coach did not tarry at all and made quick changes when the team was down to a Lucas Joao 50th minute strike.

Nippily – and in order to get the right response, Hughton introduced Joseph Paintsil, Osman Bukari and Inaki Williams for Semenyo and Sulemana, and Moham­med Kudus.

The substitution was scrumptiously deadly as it did not take long for them to make an impact, as Paintsil set up Bukari to rap home a dazzling redeemer.

Painstil, who was strange­ly overlooked for the Qatar World Cup, nearly snatched a late winner after latching onto a pass from Salis Samed, but his shot was blocked to the relief of the home crowd.

Upshot of the entertain­ing game left Ghana at the top of Group E – and just a point ahead of second-placed Central African Republic (CAR) who beat Madagascar 2-0.

As things stand now, the Stars need just a win in their next assignment at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi – somewhere in June, to book a place in the Cote d’Ivoire African Cup of Nations tour­nament.

Slowly but surely, Coach Hughton appears to be on course to building a formida­ble squad – capable of taking on the rest of the world – and he must be accorded all the needed backing to executing this mission.

By John Vigah

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