Otto Addo on World Cup mission with Ghana’s Black Stars

Ghana’s national team is aiming to take its last chance to qualify for the World Cup in Qatar.

Leading the Black Stars in their two-game playoff against rivals Nigeria will be former Ghana and Bundesliga star Otto Addo.

When former Dortmund, Mainz and Hamburg midfielder Otto Addo hung up his boots in 2008, he was keen to stay in the game, turning his hand to scouting and coaching.

He began his coaching apprenticeship as an assistant at Hamburg’s youth team, before gaining further experience as an assistant to Denmark and former Mainz coach Kasper Hjulmand when he was with Danish side Nordsjaelland.

Later, he landed a job as an assistant at Borussia Mönchengladbach under then-coach Dieter Hecking.

Currently working as “talent coach” at Dortmund, the now 46-year-old’s empathetic manner has made him indispensable as a link between the professional and youth divisions of the club.

But Dortmund recently released Addo on “loan” so that he could take on a new challenge; in February, the Ghana Football Association appointed Addo as the interim coach of country’s national team — replacing Milovan Rahevac, who had brought him in as an assistant several months earlier.

Rahevac had been shown the door after Ghana finished dead last in their group at last month’s Africa Cup of Nations.

In their three matches at the AFCON, Ghana looked indecisive and harmless, especially going forward.

In the final 3-2 defeat to minnows Comoros, the team put in a downright lifeless performance.”When the request came, I didn’t have to think twice, this is an honor for me,” Addo told local Dortmund newspaper Ruhr Nachrichten shortly after his appointment as Ghana’s interim boss was announced.

Addo’s immediate task is to lead the Black Stars to victory over their arch-rivals Nigeria in a two-legged World Cup playoff on March 25 and 29 — with the winners punching their tickets for Qatar.

Special relationship with GhanaBorn in Hamburg to a German mother and a Ghanaian father, Addo is no stranger to Africa.

He spent two years of his childhood there before his mother brought him and his twin sister back to Hamburg, where they grew up.

Addo rose through the ranks of the youth and amateur game before turning pro at Hannover 96 at the ripe old age of 24.

He would go on to spend six of his seasons in the Bundesliga at Borussia Dortmund, which is where he also earned his first of 15 caps for Ghana.

Addo represented Ghana at the 2000 Africa Cup of Nations and was a key member of the Black Stars at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, when what was a very young team advanced to the round of 16, where they lost 3-0 at the hands of Brazil.

Experienced staffNow, Addo is part of Ghana’s interim coaching team that brings plenty of international experience to the task of winning the playoff against Nigeria.

George Boateng, a Ghana-born former Dutch international who spent many seasons in the English Premier League, is one of Addo’s assistants, as is Mas-Ud Didi Dramani, the former head coach of one of Ghana’s most successful clubs, Asante Kotoko SC.

Former Newcastle United, Norwich City and Brighton coach Chris Hughton, born in London to a Ghanaian father and Irish mother, has been appointed technical director.

So much to do, so little timeDespite this wealth of experience, the coaching staff are facing what on paper looks like a mammoth task in light of what happened at the AFCON.

Having just four days to work with the team before the first match, there will be little in the way of actual changes to the squad that disappointed in Cameroon.

However, Addo is expected to make more subtle changes, relying less on his veteran stars like the Ayew brothers (Andre is 32, Jordan is 30) and giving younger players like Daniel-Kofi Kyereh (26) of Bundesliga 2 side St.

Pauli, and 19-year-old Roma forward Felix Afena-Gyan more responsibility.

Ghana’s hopes are particularly high for Gyan, who has been described by Roma coach Jose Mourinho as a “diamond in the rough.”However, it is unlikely that Ghana will be able to overrun their opponents with their young attacking players.

Nigeria had already appointed an interim coach by the start of the AFCON, with technical director Austin Eguavoen coming in to replace the German, Gernot Rohr.

By Deutsche Welle.

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