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Football is always about pressure – Coach Otto Addo on 2026 World Cup qualifiers

Black Stars head coach, Otto Addo took his seat in the press conference room at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium on Sunday to handle his pre-match media duties before our game against Central African Republic.

With the 2026 FIFA World Cup ticket up for grabs, he revealed his mindset heading into the crunch clash with the Central Africans, as well as discusses the importance of playing in front of a bubbly and cheerful crowed and much more.

The transcript is below:

On lessons from the game against Mali and approach to CAR game

One thing is for sure. I think it’s going to be very, very difficult. For anyone who thinks that we can just play them like that, I don’t it will happen. It if happens, I take it. But it’s very, very difficult to beat them. We have analyzed them well. They are doing well, especially in their offensive transitions and always dangerous. They played 1-1 against Mali so we know what to expect. Despite the win, we can’t relax now, we have to continue. Big, big congratulations to the team for this fighting spirit. Coming from one nil down to get a late goal and be mentally strong and have the right team spirit to turn this result around. I think the boys run a lot, they did a lot of good work especially, defensive. Even though we allowed too many chances but if you watch the game closely you will see how even our offensive players were working against the ball in the heat of 42 degrees. Sometimes we missed some offensive actions, but the way they played from the front to the midfield, how Kudus, Ernest Nuamah worked defensively was massive. And this atmosphere in the stadium to survive is amazing. In the end the players that came in gave us freshness, strength and crating chances was really, really good to see. These are the kind of games that makes a team grow together. We still have to learn from the mistakes from that game. Everybody knows we have a young squad so I think it was a very, very good experience to get into the next games.

On response from Kumasi fans going into his second game

I was really overwhelmed the last we came here. To be honest I didn’t expect that because you can’t take that for granted especially after a bad AFCON that people are still supporting you. This is what makes me love Kumasi no matter what. In football and in every situation when you are down that is when you need support mostly and so I will; never forget what Kumasi did for us. They cheered us up and I think we had a decent game. We had 60% ball possession, we dominated them (Nigeria), we were just missing a goal. It was really, really good to see and I love coming to Kumasi and play here. Now this is surely what I expect also the support till the last whistle is made and I am very, very happy to be here. Because I know this will give extra kick to the players. Even in hard times or when things are hard they will support and it’s a good feeling. Mentally it’s good for the players to come here and know they have the backing of the Kumasi fans.

On injuries

We had some few injuries. Like I said it was a tough, tough match but it seems everybody will train fully today and I am sure that everybody will be ready for tomorrow’s game.

On impact of substitutes in Mali game and having options

For me, it’s very, very important. I know some might not understand sometimes if one player is called and the other not. There are so many different reasons. Sometimes a player is sick or injured, sometimes he can’t come. Sometimes he doesn’t feel strong enough to come and some players we talked to are still deciding whether to play for Ghana or for another country so it’s different reasons. But for me it’s very, very important to have different options. Sometimes you need a striker like Jordan (Ayew) who can hold the ball or somebody who goes one against one like Kudus, or sometimes you have a more defensive structure for the game. It depends on who we are playing and so for me it’s very, very decisive to see the options to score goals and also the best option how to defend and based on that plus the training, plus the games they played for their teams decides who will play but it has to fit with the opponent we have and this is very, very important for me and I was happy that the players who came in made an impact. Mumin (Abdul) was there straight, Jordan (Ayew) scored the winning goal and had a good assist where Thomas almost scored, Fatawu (Issahaku) was pressing well and looking really, really sharp, winning the ball for us to have the winning goal. Elisha (Owusu) was there on point, stopped some important attacks against us and I was really, really happy to have this bench. In all, I am happy with the squad and the way the guys presented themselves, very, very disciplined. They had a lot of fun; surely when you win you have a lot of fun but also before and the way the guys engaged with each other, I really, really like it and I think there is a lot to come for the future. Like I said Mali was a very, very good experience with a happy end. Even if we would have played 1-1, I would have been very, very happy about this squad.

On Baba Yara Stadium pitch

I really have to say Mali have a wonderful pitch. I know it’s difficult to judge our pitches. We wish the pitches will be better even when we trained in Accra. These are things that we need to work on all together. I hope that it will get better but this is the way it is and this is how we take it. When I was playing the pitches were worse so things are getting better gradually and I think we all have to push to make things better. But it’s not a topic for us to be honest. We are just focusing on the game; it’s the same condition for our opponents so for me it doesn’t matter. I trained and played on worse pitches.

On assessment of the team in friendlies against Nigeria and Uganda and the qualifier against Mali

The good thing is that I don’t think I will ever be satisfied to be honest. It is difficult to compare the two games where we had the freedom to experiment. We had a lot of new players there; we had a lot of new players and younger players than we have now so it is very, very different. Surely I want to win and the team wants to win every game but it’s different if you have friendlies where you can prepare yourself for the official games. I will always want to win, Ghanaians always want to win but friendly games are totally different. I have to try some things and I have to get some answers to the questions I have about the player and for this I have to try new players. I have to give them chances. I have to see which positions they are capable of playing and how they combine in various formations so for me we want to win every game but you can’t compare friendly games to the official games.

On Ghanaians seeing the World Cup an opportunity for visa and the pressure associated with it

Pressure is part of football and to be honest when I was playing there was much more pressure because there you have to play. You have to be disciplined on the pitch and this is way, way tougher than being a coach. I can just talk like you guys (Journalists). If I want to make it easy, if it doesn’t work then I will say the players didn’t do what I said. So it’s very, very easy for me. We all want to go. Some have been to the World Cup already, for some it will be the first time, for some it could be the last time so it’s always a big, big thing for the national team to qualify. What I can say from my point of view, I had the experience and to be honest the pressure in the two games against Nigeria was much, much higher because sometimes I think people forget where we are coming from. Before the World Cup we came out of the African Cup in the first round. Now also its not so easy to prepare a team for that matter to have everybody switching to my style of play and to be attentive, and to be positive and to believe after such a bad tournament. To be believe in the coaches, to believe in their team mates and themselves is very, very difficult so again, big, big props to the players for adapting to my style so fast. We had one week of training and I think they really, really did well and that is why they got rewarded with this win.

On whether the team understands that people view the World Cup as an opportunity to travel to the USA for greener pastures

Sure. Every player wants to go to the World Cup no matter what is it. I don’t know, may be Ghanaians should know that there are a lot of job opportunities in Qatar as well. But surely we just want to go there. Everybody wants to go there, not only us, also Mali, also the other teams, also Central African Republic. They all want to go there. They will die to go there and our players as well. I can see in the last game and I can feel in training where players are fighting for their spots, and we have to stop the training and calm them down sometimes so I can really feel how the players are eager to win and the players are giving their all to qualify for this World Cup.

On Central African Republic stretching Ghana the last time we met and approach  

I can’t be too specific with the approach because I don’t know what our opponents to know what we are trying to do. I know their strength is offensive transitions, we have to stop that. And once we stop that we have the opportunity to score a goal. I will bring the formation which is the freshest for the mostly likely positions to outscore them. But they have proven against Mali that can play a draw or win against any team so that will be tough. And surely, we prepared ourselves and watched a lot of matches and we have had a lot of analysis. And I am very sure that we have picked the right things out on where we have to improve. And also the right solutions on how we can play them out and if things work out, we will win this game.

On playing a team considered as a minnow and its importance

It’s a very, very important game. Like I said from the beginning, we have to take it serious; it’s going to be tough. Like in the past, I think we had problems when we are the favorites and now it was for us to use these three days to work on solutions on how we can outplay them. Which positions we can take, how we can position ourselves to bring out our biggest strength, especially on our offensive players. And I am confident that it will work but action speaks louder than words so we have to see what happens tomorrow. But I hope that we can create a lot of chances and when we do that, we will score.

Credit: Ghana FA

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