Our Head Coach Chris Hughton has been sharing his thoughts on Ghana’s readiness for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations Matchday 4 qualifier against Angola on Monday.
The former Norwich City, Tottenham Hortspur, Brighton and Hove Albion and Newcastle United manager is aiming for his second win on the bounce after leading the Black Stars to a 1-0 win against Angola on Thursday.
In this interview with ghanafa.org, Chris Hughton discusses the quality of Angola, the absence of Andre Ayew, Alexander Djiku, Denis Odoi and Mohammed Salisu and the late call up of Amiens defender Nicholas Opoku.
Read on for the full transcript:
On what he is looking ahead to
I think again, a difficult game. Angola showed in big parts of the game the quality that they have got, their way of play. I don’t think there will be too many surprises in the way they play because they are a very technical and they like to play very expansive game. It’s about making sure that we on the day defend well, play as a unit and take our opportunities, perhaps a little bit better than what we did in the first game.
On taking chances
I think both teams want to start well, it’s a big part of the game, there will be a big crowed there tomorrow so they will want to get the crowed going. But we had a good start in the last game, played well, had opportunities and didn’t take them and what happens is if you don’t take them, the opposition grow in confidence so we just need to make sure that we are in the game all of the time and take the opportunities when we can.
On absence of Djiku, Andre Ayew, Salisu and Denis Odoi
Their absence is a loss to the team because they are not only players in the squad but they are players who have been around and been part of the squad for a while. But this is International football and this is why you have a squad prepared and always if its starters like in particular Denis Odoi and Alexander Djiku – both started then this is where you have a squad and it’s always an opportunity for somebody else.
On approach to the game
The approach is that we are up against a good team. I can say something quite obvious, that we will have to defend well and we will have to attack well. Always try to get the balances. We have to make sure that we are compact as team – this is for sure, because they are a good quality and they a very technical team. But we are here to win the game and you can’t win the game unless you give yourself an opportunity to attack and to attack well. We have to be careful how we do this. If the game becomes too open, if it becomes end to end then of course it can be for any team so we have to have a strategy going into the game as we would in any game. They are playing at home; they will try to use their support. But we are a good team, we managed to get the victory a few days ago and it’s something we want to build on.
On likely changes to the team
The changes is always something you have get it balance. It’s a short period of time between both games so you have to evaluate each and every player what they put into the game. Can they go again; tactically do I need to play one or another player. We have already spoken about the two players who are out of the game anyway. So certainly we have to make at least two changes, we know. But these are the things that I have been thinking about the last couple of days and it’s about picking the right players for this particular game. But we have to use the squad and if you are not making changes at the start of the game, as we found in the home leg, it’s about the players that can come on and make an impact in the game. Antoine Semenyo comes on and scores a goal. Osman Bukari came on and made an impact, Joseph Painstil came on and made an impact so it’s very important that we use the squad.
On Nicholas Opoku
I don’t know Nicholas as well as some of the staff members and the players here do. So it was good to see him, not so long ago and reintroduce himself to the players so this was good. I have watched a lot of games, videos, I can tell you that not so much live because it’s difficult to get round to watch so many live games. But I have always known of Nicholas. I know his strength, he needs no introduction. He is somebody that comes in easily; he has played games before so that transition is easy for him coming into the squad. We lost three players in Djiku, Denis Odoi and Andre from the last game. I felt that we were covered enough in the offensive positions and instead of bringing two defenders in because we lost two defenders; I thought we just get the balance right to bring in one. Because I think we have a couple of players that can play in a couple of positions and I didn’t want to bring too many players. Nicholas is somebody that we know; he knows the players and I think the transition is easy.
On Inaki going seven games without scoring
It’s very much part and parcel of the game. What we know in Inaki is that he is a very good player, playing in a good team in a good League. I think with somebody like Inaki it’s not all about goals. He plays consistently for his team. But I think it’s his contribution in the game; he is a player that makes a lot of runs. He stretches the play a bit and sometimes it benefits other players. So I think as regards his goal scoring with us and the Black Stars, it will come but sometimes it doesn’t come as quick as what you want. What is more important for us is his contribution in the game and for the team that is the most important thing.
On players knowing what is stake
Absolutely, the players are focused. They know what the game means, they know it’s away from home and a big crowed they are expecting there tomorrow. But this is part of International football and everybody wants to play at the best level. So the players know the task in hand. We know the type of opposition to play if we want to get the results. But we have to play well to enable us to get that. So everybody knows that you can never predict how the game will go because there can be so many twist and turns. We just have to work as hard as we can to make sure the game goes in our favour.