Ghana coach Hughton hopeful of avoiding another early AFCON exitSun, 21 Jan 2024 16:48:30 GMT

Ghana head into Monday’s crucial Africa Cup of Nations meeting with Mozambique desperate to avoid a repeat of their disastrous early exit from the tournament two years ago.The Black Stars have just one point so far in Group B after following a 2-1 loss to Cape Verde in their opening game by drawing 2-2 with Egypt.Lose to a Mozambique side who have never won a game at the Cup of Nations, in 14 attempts, and four-time African champions Ghana will be eliminated.A draw would also leave them facing likely elimination. While a victory in Abidjan might not lift Ghana into the top two places in the group, it would give them good chance of going through as one of the best third-placed teams.”We are all aware that this is a situation that we would rather not be in,” Ghana coach Chris Hughton told reporters on Sunday.”We would rather have more points, and we feel certainly from the performances and the goals we have conceded that we should be in a better position, but we are not.”The conversation is not difficult. This is a game we have to win.”Ghana have a proud record at the Cup of Nations, but they have not won the trophy since 1982 and performed poorly at the last two editions.Knocked out in the last 16 in Egypt in 2019, they were sent packing in the group stage in Cameroon two years ago.On that occasion they also had one point from their first two matches, before a final game they were expected to win against minnows the Comoros.They lost 3-2 to the island nation and finished bottom of their section.”If you concentrate too much on the past in a particular game, then it can affect your preparation and thinking,” Hughton said.”We can only think about what is in front of us now and a tough game tomorrow.”Former Tottenham Hotspur player Hughton also dismissed suggestions that Ghana’s proud history might be weighing on him and his team.”There is nobody associated with the Black Stars who is not conscious of the trophies we have won in the past, but this is a different year,” he said.The coach added that he was hopeful Anderlecht midfielder Majeed Ashimeru would be available after coming off against Egypt due to a knock.