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Chris Hughton on defensive errors, loss to Mexico, Inaki Williams, USA and more: Transcript

6 months ago

Our head coach Chris Hughton faced the media Monday ahead of the second friendly against the United States of America at GEODIA Park, Nashville, Tennessee. The former Brighton and Hove Albion manager who has been in charge of the Black Stars since March, touched on the team’s readiness for the Africa Cup of Nations, avoiding mistakes against USA and the recent unimpressive loss to Mexico.

Read on for the full transcript:

On challenges against USA

I think the challenges are quite obvious. We are up against a very good team that has got good experience with very good ranking and of course playing at home. We have watched a lot of games, we watched the recent game against Germany and I think it was a game of two halves. The USA did really good particularly in the first half but of course up against a very good and experienced German team. So we know the challenges are high and this is the reason why we are here. We had a very challenging game of course on Saturday. In the first half of the game, we competed and competed very well and conceded two poor goals but you can’t do that against that type of quality. So yes, the challenges will be high but that is exactly why we are here.

Thoughts on MLS and Ghanaian players in MLS

I think generally the quality of the League is normally determined by the amount of the coverage they get. The League certainly gets a lot of coverage these days. For somebody that is based in Europe, there might have been times in the past where we didn’t hear too much about the results, the players, the teams but we do now. And I think that is the consequence of a lot of the players that play in here. Of course there is one super star that happens to be playing here at the moment that I think has raised the profile even more so. I can see more Ghanaian players playing here in the future if I am looking at the way the League is going. I am made aware and I scout as much as I can. I always have to get the balance between getting stability in the squads that I have and also scouting new players. And I would have to say that there is probably not a week or few weeks ago is passed that a new player that is eligible to play for Ghana is not brought to my attention.  So it’s not easy watching the volume of players that are available but we do the best that we can and of course we are aware that the players are playing here.

On avoiding mistakes against USA

We were relatively happy with the first half performance. But I think when you playing against a very good Mexican team in their own stadium as such. Because that is what it felt and on a surface that they know well, when they raise their game, which they did in the second half, they raised the intensity of their game, we had to match that and ball possession needed in that second half period. It also goes to say that you can have a lot of games you know that the opposition will have a bigger percentage of chances but what you can’t afford to so is what we regards as bad defensive goals and the two goals we gave away we thought were avoidable and if we are able to avoid them to opportunities then maybe we come out of the game as not being the better team but what we regards as probably a good result.

On offensive quality of team

If I look at the proportion of the game and of course the game is always judged and gauged on in possession and out of possession. Particularly in the first half period our work out of possession was good. I thought we built well from the back in the first half period and we had some opportunities. Particularly, very early in the game Joseph Painstil through on that right had side early in the game but to have that opportunities it means you need to penetrate a team and generally there are two ways to penetrate, its either you working through the third or runs behind and these are the two areas where we need to do better to make sure we are in the game with the amount of the opportunities that allow us to win football matches. And I think against Mexico even though our first half performance was a decent performance over the ninety minutes we were not a big enough threat in their goal and that what have to change.


On Inaki Williams

What we have with all of the players are a short period of time so if I answer the question in two ways: At club level he plays in two positions but generally, he is a number nine, he is a centre forward.  At this moment in time and for a good part of the season, he is been playing on the right hand side in a three. As regards the goals he scores and his performance, this is because what he is able to do at club is that he is able to have day to day contact, day to day training and a way of playing that obviously suits the team. What we can’t do is we can’t fault the work rate that he puts in. He is a player that is prepared to run behind. We just need to get the formulas right where we are able to provide him with the service and the service can come in two ways. It can come from the wide areas or it can come from runs over the top. And I think over the period of time, we haven’t been able to provide him with that type of service. Some of that is sporadic; we have game where we have had good possession in the middle of the park and look for runners. But probably as I said we need to find the right formulas to create chances for him. And upon until this moment we haven’t been able to do that.

On the spirit of the team

One thing I can guarantee you is that there is nothing wrong with the spirit in the team. I have been involved for a period of time now, first as a Technical Advisor and obviously since March as head coach. And I would to say that right through the World Cup and into the camps we have had. The spirit amongst the team has always been very good. Yes, if we look at the cohesion in the team, it’s about trying to get these right balances and in the national level it can be difficult because you can be five, six players short in one camp than you are in a different camp.  And it’s also determining a way of play. In the last couple of games, we have played a different system to try to solve some of the problems that we feel we have had in creating chances. But it’s my role as head coach and the coaches that we have to continue to work with these players to get the right balances and the right formulas to get the performances that we want.

On recent unimpressive results

As regards results, there is always that balance between performance and results and ultimately the results are the always most important things. But we are aware that generally if you are putting in good enough performances then the results will come. And this is something that in the periods of time that we have with the players we are working as hard as we can to make sure that we have enough good combinations so they can put in good enough performance.


 On Ghanaian expectations on team’s readiness for AFCON

I am quite sure that we will be ready. But again I have to speak about balances because we have two top friendlies here against two very, very good team and I will give you an example. If I am talking about the squads that we have had, then probably some of the names that have been regular in the squad, then probably some of the names that are regulars in the squad we have six players missing and that can be the case for the next squad or the next squad after that so the idea, one is of course to get as much consistency as you can but in the circumstance where you potentially might be missing players, you don’t want to be bringing players in for their first cap or their second caps so that is always the hard balance. We have a tremendous friendly tomorrow, top quality friendly tomorrow and two World Cup qualification games to make sure that we are alright for the Africa Cup of Nations. We will be prepared for sure. Because come this time, apart from any players that potentially might miss the AFCON. Then we will get the right balance of experienced players and players that have just come into the squad and we will be ready for what will be a very tough tournament.