The former Premier League manager has signed a year-and-a-half deal as announced by the Ghana Football Association [GFA] until December 2024. The contract is subject to performance review.
Takeaways from Chris Hughton’s unveiling as Black Stars coach
Chris Hughton on Monday was unveiled as the new head coach of the senior national team, the Black Stars.
He will be assisted by George Boateng and Didi Dramani.
Having worked as a technical advisor for the team ahead of the Nigeria game in the World Cup playoffs and the World Cup in Qatar, Hughton faced the media in Kumasi at the SG Mall following his official unveiling.
Here are some takeaways from the presser of the 64-year-old:
Build a winsome team
Chris Hughton was emphatic about building a solid team. Despite failing to impress at the Mundial in the Gulf country, Ghana presented one of the youngest team.
The current playing body has been touted as the team to perhaps end the country’s over 40 years trophyless jinx.
However, Hughton is determined to build a formidable side in a space of a year and a half.
"We want to see a winning team. There will be a lot of questions. Are you offensive or defensive? Correct preparation of the teams," he said.
"Use the players to the best of their abilities. We start on the same level. Put together a group of players to play as a team and win matches," he added.
Trophies are not guaranteed
Despite aiming to build a formidable team, Hughton is managing the expectations of Ghanaians and unequivocally reiterated that he cannot guarantee trophies.
Ghana have failed to win the continent’s most prestigious trophy with the last one coming in 1982. The team has come close in 1992, 2010 and 2015.
Having failed to win a single game at the last AFCON in Cameroon, football fans will hope Hughton and his technical team will steer the side to book qualification and annex the trophy in Ivory Coast.
Astonishingly, the former Brighton boss speaking to the press insisted that no coach can guarantee trophies.
“Coaches cannot guarantee a trophy. There is no one because we [coaches] cannot guarantee anything,” Hughton said.
“What we can guarantee is, we will work as hard as we can to put a team together; to create the right tactics, the right mentality, the right personnel to put ourselves in the best position to do that. And the first that comes is qualification, so we will work as hard as we can.”
Stay in Ghana and spend time watching Ghana Premier League
Expatriate coaches over the years have failed to stick to the promise after taking up the national team job.
A classic example is former Chelsea manager, Avram Grant. The Israeli manager was described as a stubborn gaffer due to his lack of interest of staying in the country.
Surprisingly, Avram led the team to the final of the 2015 AFCON in Equatorial Guinea.
Chris Hughton was criticized after no local player had a place in his 25-man squad for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations [AFCON] against Angola on Thursday.
The decision by the former Irish international has been defended by the leadership of the country’s football governing body.
Players plying their trade in the Ghana Premier League have failed to make an impact at the various clubs.
The Black Galaxies, the home-based players failed to perform at the 2022 Nations of Africa Championship [CHAN] in Algeria. The team which was led by Annor Walker suffered an elimination in the quarterfinal, losing to Niger.
However, Hughton has vowed to spend more time in Ghana and also watch the top flight with the aim of building a formidable side.
"I will be spending more time in Ghana. I will be watching more games. I am constantly being made aware of players who are doing well."
“I'll be paying more attention to [GPL] games because it is important that we have a strong national league."
The issue of interference
The current GFA hierarchy led by Kurt Okraku has been criticized over the alleged player influence.
It was over-reported that the FA are imposing players on the various national team coaches. However, CK Akonnor, who is a former Black Stars coach in an interview with Joy Prime surprisingly confirmed that the issue of player influence in the national team is a piece of public knowledge.
Ahead of the 2022 Mundial in Qatar, the decision to leave out Joseph Paintsil, who was one of the best Ghanaian players in Europe dominated the local and international media for the wrong reasons.
The decision was attributed to player influence by the leadership of the FA.
But Hughton speaking at the press said he would not want to speak on what has happened in the past since he is the manager.
According to him, player influence will be a thing of the past.
"I cannot speak to what happened in the past.”
"I am the head coach now and I know interference will be a thing of the past.”
Selection metrics will not be static & balance between young and old players
With the current youthful players, Chris Hughton has assured that the selection metric will not be static.
He also assured that there would be a blend of young and old players.
To have a formidable team as assured by the new trainer, not having a template squad for call-up will force other players to aim for a spot in the team.
It is imperative to maintain your winning squad but to build a good team, there is the need to create competition which will make the team even more competitive and strong.
The blend of young and experienced players has always been a medium for teams to succeed.
The Black Stars played in the quarterfinal of the Fifa World Cup in South Africa for the first time in the history of the country due to the experience and the fresh blood the team had under Milovan Rajevac, having played in the Round of 16 in Germany in their debut appearance under Ratomir Dujkovic.
Daniel Agyei, Andre Ayew, Jonathan Mensah, Samuel Inkoom, and Dominic Adiyah who won the U-20 World Cup in Egypt in 2009 made the team a strong side.
The same crop of players, unfortunately, lost out on winning the 2010 AFCON in Angola.
“There is a thought process that goes into every squad. And sometimes that thought process goes out the window when you have injured players,” Hughton said at the presser about selection metric
“International football is always about compromise, and it is always about adjusting.”
Chris Hughton will take charge of his first training session with players that have already flown into the country at Accra Sports Stadium later on Monday.
Ghana will take on Angola in a 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifying doubleheader, with the first leg scheduled to be played at Baba Yara Sports Stadium on Thursday while the reverse fixture will come off in Luanda four days later.
What can we expect?
Since the appointment of Avram Grant who had coached in the Premier League, Chris Hughton perhaps remains the next high-profile manager the GFA have appointed. Having spoken eloquently at his unveiling, with the calmness of the former Norwich boss, Ghanaians can be rest assured that a manager with a pedigree and with rich experience will now manage a team that has failed to perform in the last two international tournaments under two different coaches.
Having been part of the team for close to a year, I am sure Chris Hughton would have spotted the loopholes in the team and would want to improve the shortfalls.
With his contract subject to performance review, Hughton will be hoping to start on a bright spot and subsequently chalk success with the Black Stars.
Best of luck and a very good welcome, Chris!
By Samuel Ekow Amoasi
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