Right. Where do we begin the? First of, apologies if you’re vegan; this introduction isn’t for you.
Now imagine sitting before a burger, stacked with a well-cooked juicy patty, smeared with delicious sauce made by Chef Gordon Ramsay himself, and some tasty cheese.
Delectable, isn’t it? The burger you’re looking at, despite the inviting and appetizing interior, is encompassed by two very moldy buns – and you have to eat the entire thing! Yes, you’re right, it’s disgusting!
Unfortunately, this picture is what perfectly captures the performance of the Black Stars in 2022, and the rollercoaster of emotions the team sent fans on. A poor beginning, promising in the middle and a disappointing end.
However, 2023 doesn’t only spell the start of a new year, but also, a new era for the team. After going through two head coaches in 2022, – Milovan Rajevac and Otto Addo – the Black Stars have a new man at the helm of affairs – Chris Hughton.
The former Newcastle and Brighton and Holve Albion boss, served as Technical Advisor under Otto Addo, and succeeds the Borrusia Dortmund trainer with the task of ending the team’s 41-year trophy drought at the next Africa Cup of Nations in neighboring Côte d’Ivoire.
The task is daunting; but with that comes possibilities. The team made positive strides last year, and with the right context applied to the results, that’s an apparent conclusion.
The need for a rebuild was clearly evident after the AFCON 2022 disaster (worst performance in the team’s history). Since then, the team has seen the introduction of some new faces, who fit the bill for a sustainable rebuild.
The advantage is that, most of these new faces provide solutions to some of the obvious weaknesses the team has faced in the past few years. The likes of Mohammed Salisu, Tariq Lamptey, Antoine Semenyo and Salis Abdul Samed, can provide the bedrock of long term success, with their youth and talent. Inaki Williams and Denis Odoi, who have already have established careers in club football, can provide some short term fixes in their various positions.
The aforementioned Addo was insightful in his final press conference as Black Stars head coach, saying, “I’m very sure this squad has a bright future and the potential to do great things.”
The rebuild has seen familiar faces over the past 10 years being slowly phased out and new exciting talent introduced. A good number of the current setup plays in some of the best leagues in Europe, with their ages representing a fine blend of youth and experience.
Continuity is an extremely important factor in a rebuilding process, and Chris Hughton who has already had somewhat of a year’s internship with the group, serving as Technical Advisor, already knows the squad to the core. A major advantage is his closeness to the team over the past year, which has enabled him diagnose its strengths and weaknesses, like any smart gaffer with intentions of assuming the main head coaching role would do.
Continuity with regards to the make-up of the squad is also equally important. The Black Stars paraded the youngest squad at the 2022 World Cup, which boasted some of the most exciting talents in world football. Hughton’s latest 25-man squad for the AFCON qualifying double header against Angola includes 75% of the players from the World Cup squad and proves the manager is intent on maintaining continuity. The group is still largely inexperienced on the national scene, with a good chunk of the current playing body having not registered up to ten caps. A team is an assembly of individuals who share a similar philosophy and vision – and building one capable of winning championships can only be achieved with time and consistency.
Take the Senegal project under Alliou Cisse for example. It took seven years of work, consistency and steady progress before they eventually won the AFCON trophy in 2022. Cisse’s first World Cup with the team (2018) – in his third year in charge, saw Senegal eliminated in the group stages, but he qualified them for the Round 16 in their very next appearance. Progress.
Senegal’s first two AFCON campaigns with Cisse saw them eliminated in the Quarterfinals (2017), but finish as runners up (2019). Again, obvious progress.
After the events of last year, Ghanaian football fans must be patient. Quick fixes, never yield sustainable results. The new Black Stars head coach has the required experience in management and is capable. The squad is capable. But time is of utmost essence.
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