There aren’t many better ways to endear yourself to your fans than by beating your closest rival. Knocking them out of contention for the FIFA World Cup in the process, meanwhile, escalates one’s status further faster.
Otto Addo had only played briefly for Ghana, a 15-cap stint that lasted from 1999 till 2006. But the former attacker found himself thrust into the limelight when the Black Stars needed someone to show them the way.
Addo had been acting as assistant to the head coach Milovan Rajevac since 2021 and watched from the sidelines as his team lost to Morocco and Comoros at the Africa Cup of Nations and suffered an embarrassing group stage elimination.
Rajevac did not last long after that. Days after Ghana were knocked out of the continental competition, the federation decided to part ways with the Serbian and installed Addo in his place on an interim basis.
His first task: beat rivals Nigeria in the two-legged third-round play-off for a spot at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
With their new head coach lacking experience at the upper-most level, and a crunch tie on the horizon, the federation moved quickly to add the same to the coaching team.
Raising several eyebrows, the Black Stars appointed former Newcastle United and Brighton and Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton — who has Ghanaian roots — as a technical advisor.
Former Aston Villa and Middlesbrough player George Boateng and experienced coach Mas-Ud Didi Dramani joined the staff, too.
The new team assembled in time for the fixture – a two-legged tie was played over four days with the first leg in Kumasi on March 25 and the return leg in Abuja on March 29, 2022.
The old rivals drew 0-0 in Ghana and 1-1 in Nigeria, allowing the former to seal a berth in Qatar based on the away-goal rule.
Ghana rewarded their new coaching quartet for the job they did by renewing their deals until the end of the year, confirming their place in the dugout for the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar.
The Black Stars also enhanced their preparations by recruiting five new players, the most high-profile among them Athletic Club forward Inaki Williams and Brighton full-back Tariq Lamptey.
Otto Addo, who, before joining the Ghana set-up, was a talent coach at Borussia Dortmund, tasked with helping young and promising players transition from the youth to the senior team, seems to have the appropriate skills to help bring the new stars into the fold.
Add to that, the experience of Hughton and the team’s set-up begins to look promising. Quarter-finals remain the best finish Ghana have achieved in a FIFA World Cup, and, after a four-year-long absence, the Black Stars will be looking to match – or better – the accomplishments of their past under a new-look coaching team.