Otto Addo - Black Stars Coach
Otto Addo - Black Stars Coach

Otto Addo stands firm on dropping Ayew

In a move that has ignited lively debate among fans and pundits, Black Stars Head Coach, Otto Addo, has staunchly defended his decision to leave Captain Andre Ayew out of the squad that clinched victories over Mali and the Central African Republic (CAR) in the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. 


Despite Ayew's recent standout performances for his French club, Le Havre, the coach is looking towards the long-term future of the national team.

Ayew, a stalwart with 118 international cups, has been in fine form in Ligue 1, scoring six goals and providing one assist in 20 appearances this season. 

His omission from the national team, therefore, came as a shock to many. However, Otto Addo clarified at a press conference two weeks ago in Accra that the veteran midfielder's exclusion did not signal the end of his international career.

Following Ghana’s dramatic 4-3 victory over CAR, the coach spoke to TV3 and elaborated on his controversial decision, emphasising that it was made in the best interest of the team.

Addo revealed that he had a thorough discussion with Ayew before making the call, stressing that the decision was made with the nation's best interests in mind.

"I've always said Andre is a living legend, someone who has given so much for our nation," the coach remarked. "He’s a remarkable player and person, representing Ghana with unparalleled passion. However, as a coach, my responsibility is to think about the future and what's best for the team."

"I had a good conversation with him and I took my decision and in the end, it was always in the best interest of the nation and for the team,"  the coach, who refused to divulge the details of his discussion with 34-year-old Ayew who has played for Ghana since 2007, explained.

The coach's recent remarks on Ayew's absence and his decision to revamp the national team with a focus on youth are seen as a forward-thinking approach and his readiness to take bold decisions, which signal a new era for the national team, as he aims to blend experienced stalwarts with rising stars to build a team ready to conquer the world stage.

Otto Addo’s vision for a younger, revitalised squad was on full display in the recent qualifiers as Ghana fought back to defeat Mali 2-1 in Bamako and record a 4-3 victory over CAR in Kumasi.

He handed West Bromwich Albion forward, Brandon Thomas-Asante, his international debut in the high-stakes match against CAR. The 25-year-old, who boasts an impressive record in the English Championship with 12 goals in 43 appearances last season, was introduced as a late substitute.

Since stepping in as interim coach in 2020 and now as a permanent fixture, Addo has been integrating new talent into the national team. Players such as Antoine Semenyo, Inaki Williams, Tariq Lamptey, and Jerome Opoku—each born in Europe to Ghanaian parents—have been given the chance to shine on the international stage.

The coach said he would continue to look out for such talents and allow them to thrive in the right environment and give their best, even though he aimed to give equal opportunities to home-based players for national call-ups.

"We're looking for the best players, and for me, it doesn't matter where you're coming from. If you're a local player from Accra or you come from Tamale, or you were born in London with Ghanaian parents, it doesn't matter. For us, it's about picking the best player and doing the best for the nation," Otto Addo told TV3.

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