Soccer-Hughton plays valuable role for Ghana in the shadows


  • Football
  • Wednesday, 30 Nov 2022

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - Ghana Training - Aspire Zone Training Facilities 1, Doha, Qatar - November 23, 2022 Ghana technical advisor Chris Hughton during training REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

DOHA (Reuters) - Chris Hughton sat high in the stands, stuck among the media in his green Ghanaian training garb, messaging down advice on a two-way radio to the bench as the west Africans beat South Korea on Monday to win their first points of the World Cup in Qatar.

The former Brighton & Hove Albion manager, and Republic of Ireland international fullback, is a key but almost invisible member of the coaching team, looking now to plot the downfall of Uruguay on Friday and win for Ghana a place in the last 16 of the tournament in Qatar.

Hughton, who turns 64 next month, has kept a low profile in Qatar in his role as technical adviser but there is little doubt he is an integral part of Ghana's brains trust.

"He's got a lot of experience and knowledge and he's always trying to give his best for the team," said coach Otto Addo, who was a surprise choice for Ghana after a disastrous Africa Cup of Nations finals in January and parachuted in only weeks ahead of their World Cup playoff against Nigeria in March.

Addo had no previous senior coaching experience but has been working at youth level in Germany for more than a decade. Hughton, whose father was born in Ghana and was visiting the country at the time, was asked to help.

Ghana scraped through that Nigeria tie, with some fortune, and the coaching team was kept in place for the World Cup.

"We have a very good relationship. Chris Hughton is a very experienced coach," Addo added earlier this week.

"He takes a lot of things out of my head for me to concentrate on the team. And on the tactics, he's also given advice. We have good exchanges with him, but also with the other coaches like George Boateng and Didi Dramani.”

Hughton has also done much in preparation. "He was here to inspect the hotels. He was here to organise everything. He's done a great job so far and he's a big help to me," Addo said.

STRONG CONNECTION

Hughton has stayed in the shadows during the World Cup but in a recent interview with the Mail on Sunday said of his role: “I do feel a strong connection to the country. So when they asked if I was prepared to help, using my experience and knowledge, the answer was always going to be yes."

Hughton went to the 1990 World Cup with Ireland but did not play. He did however win 53 caps over a 12-year spell while on the books at Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United. His status as a former Premier League manager -- he took Brighton up to the top division in 2017 -- gives him an elder statesman’s role.

"I’m confident in the squad and the coaching staff, but part of my role should be to be realistic. Not to dampen expectations, but to speak honestly.

"One thing I’m confident of is the work Otto and the technical staff have put in. This team is very well-prepared and the players give everything. We will have to play well and we’ll need a bit of luck. But we've seen in past tournaments that anything is possible for a country like ours.”

(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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