Coach Otto Addo says his era will be marked by exciting football by the Black Stars with good results
Coach Otto Addo says his era will be marked by exciting football by the Black Stars with good results
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Otto Addo’s second era: Rebuilding Black Stars amid high expectations

Last Wednesday, Otto Addo entered the crowded conference room with a relaxed demeanour, ready to face a barrage of questions.

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 The coach of the Black Stars, donned his signature smile, and showed no signs of being rattled by the scrutiny of his first tenure or the pressing queries about his plans to revive the team's fortunes.

With a new 34-month contract from the Ghana Football Association (GFA), the coach steps into a role that is fraught with high expectations and substantial challenges. His mission is to transform the Black Stars from recent disappointing AFCON exits to achieving success at the FIFA World Cup.

He is no stranger to the intricacies and high stakes of Ghanaian football. At 48, he understands the gravity of his task and the immense pressure to deliver immediate results while nurturing long-term development.

Facing the media, Addo was candid and in some cases diplomatic and controversial. He avoided making grand promises about guaranteed victories, focusing instead on ensuring his team plays high-quality football, which he believes will lead to positive outcomes in the long run.

"For me, Ghana is known for good football, and I want to use the opportunity to promise you'll see good football. It's difficult to promise victories because in football, you can be better than your opponent and in the end, they will score and win," he stated.

Crucial moment

Coach Otto Addo’s return comes at a crucial moment. His previous short stint, which began post the 2021 AFCON disappointment, saw him lead the team to World Cup qualification by defeating Nigeria in a two-led playoff on the away goal rule.

Now, with the 2026 World Cup campaign looking uncertain with Ghana fourth on the Group I log, he has to prepare the team swiftly for qualifiers against Mali and the Central African Republic. 

In his recent address,  the coach emphasised the need to rejuvenate the team and foster a positive football culture. Qualifying for the 2026 FIFA World Cup is a major priority for both the GFA and the nation, demanding resilience and strategic planning.

His background at Borussia Dortmund, where he played a pivotal role as Talent Coach in developing some of the club's finest young talents like Jadon Sancho, Erling Haaland, and Jude Bellingham, underscores his deep understanding of the modern game.

However, unlike in a club setting, he lacks the luxury of time with national team players, necessitating a rapid build of confidence and unity within the squad. His immediate tasks include tackling the Mali threat on June 6 in Bamako and facing the Central African Republic in Kumasi on June 10.

"It will be difficult, very difficult, especially as we are some points behind," he acknowledged, highlighting the challenges ahead.

One of Otto Addo's most significant and bold decisions was excluding the team’s captain, Andre Ayew, a veteran with 120 international appearances.

This move signals Addo’s readiness to make tough choices for the team’s long-term benefit however unpopular they may seem. While acknowledging Ayew’s contributions and dedication since his debut in August 2007, the coach pointed to the need to build the team around a younger generation, with experienced players like Jordan Ayew and new captain Thomas Partey stepping up.

"As everyone knows, he's a living legend. What he's attained is unbelievable. It was a difficult decision, to be honest, because I like him as a person and also as a player. He [Andre Ayew] holds the record in games for the national team; he has achieved things that just a few players from Ghana have achieved.

But in the end, as a coach, you have to take decisions," Addo explained.
Arsenal star Partey, now tasked with leading the team, must leverage his experience and inspire young talents like Mohammed Kudus to navigate the upcoming challenges.

Talents abound

Over the past six years, Otto Addo has worn various hats for the national team, including scouting talent in Europe.

His current squad features some of Ghana's brightest young prospects, such as debutants Brandon Thomas-Asante of English side, West Bromwich Albion and Ibrahim Sulemana of Cagliari FC of Italy, along with players from his earlier tenure. Talent abounds, but molding these players into a cohesive unit that exemplifies the exciting football the Black Stars are known for is a formidable challenge.

The coach has committed to prioritising players from the Ghana Premier League in future selections, marking a shift in his approach. "In my first spell, the only pressure was to invite local players. Now, with a full-time appointment, I will pay closer attention to the league. I will observe the matches live and not just on video. For me, when a player is good, he is good regardless of where he plays," he declared.

During his initial term as caretaker coach, local talents like Accra Hearts of Oak's Afriyie Barnieh and Kumasi Asante Kotoko's Ibrahim Danlad were the only home-based players to make Ghana's squad for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

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The coach is confident in his modern football tactics and flexible approach. He aims to instill a new team culture characterised by a high work ethic and discipline.

"So it's the game culture, and this is the number one thing we're trying to build, a long-term culture, habits in the team, work ethic, about being disciplined on and off the pitch," he articulated.

Assessment

Ultimately, the coach tenure will be judged by results. His previous success in guiding the national team to the 2022 World Cup qualifies him to tackle the upcoming qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup and the 2025 AFCON. His commitment to building a competitive and cohesive team is clear, but he is aware of the unpredictable nature of football.

"We will have good times; we will have good and bad times. But in the long term, what I want to be assessed on should be the way we play. I want us to be brave and to play good football. I'm a strong believer that in the long term, if you play good football it will yield benefits and the results will also come. I will be judged by the results 100 per cent."

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As the Black Stars gear up for crucial matches, Otto Addo’s ability to inspire and lead this young team will be essential in restoring pride to Ghanaian football.

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