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Chris Hughton: Winning Afcon has become tougher now

Ghana coach Chris Hughton says winning the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) has become even more challenging.

The 64-year-old has a task of qualifying the Black Stars and possibly leading the senior national team to ending what will be a 41-year continental trophy drought at the upcoming 2023 edition in neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire next January.

While many top nations have secured their slots with games to spare, Ghana’s campaign has had to go down the wire until the final round.

To secure qualification from Group E, the Black Stars must avoid a defeat when they host Central African Republic in their final qualifier later in September.

Speaking to talkSPORT about ending Ghana’s trophy drought, Hughton acknowledged that teams on the continent have seen an improvement in quality, and as a result, his side will need to be at their absolute best in order to bring home the trophy.

“Once you get there, what you want to do is perform and perform well,” he said on Tuesday.

“One thing I have seen during the travels on the games we’ve played is that the level of the African countries now in football has improved absolutely no doubt. I think it’s because of the infrastructure; [there is] so much more now.

“The African players play at a good level with good clubs, Europeans with good structure. There are some balances now. What we regarded as the lesser footballing countries have now improved. So, the competition is greater,” Hughton added.

Ghana are four-time winners of the Africa Cup of Nations – 1963, 1965, 1978 and 1982. The last time the Black Stars came very close was at Afcon 2015 when they lost the final to Cote d’Ivoire via penalty shootouts.



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