2023 AFCON: It was hard luck

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John Paintsil

Former Black Stars defender, John Paintsil has offered insight into Ghana’s poor performance at the just ended 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament.

The national team, vying for their fifth continental title, fell short, exiting the tournament at the group stage with only two points out of a possible nine.

Despite holding leads in matches, the Black Stars suffered a 2-1 defeat to Cape Verde and settled for 2-2 draws against Egypt and Mozambique.

This marked Ghana’s second consecutive early exit in major tournaments, echoing disappointments from AFCON 2021 and the 2022 World Cup.

Paintsil pointed out a lack of leadership from the coaching staff, exacerbating the team’s misfortune.

In an interview with UTV, he remarked, “The players faced bad luck, but we lacked leadership from the coaches. There was a lack of unity among the boys.”

Emphasizing the significance of teamwork, Paintsil stressed that success hinges on collective effort rather than individual brilliance alone. He highlighted issues such as disjointed player movements and an overreliance on individual skills.

Comparing the current team dynamics to his playing days, Paintsil noted a decline in standards, citing diminished respect, unity, and responsibility among players. He recalled an era where unity and mutual respect were paramount, allowing them to predict victories confidently.

“We could even close our eyes during our time and beat you before leaving the dressing room. We will predict to score 2-0 under 20 minutes because the respect and unity were there. There was no discrimination so sometimes players must take responsibility. You are not a team player if you see yourself as bigger than your teammates,” he added.

Following the disappointing AFCON 2023 campaign, the Ghana Football Association parted ways with coach Chris Hughton. A committee has been formed to search for his successor, with numerous applications received.

Looking ahead, Ghana will focus on the 2026 World Cup qualifiers scheduled for June, where they are slated to face Mali and the Central African Republic.

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