Black Stars winger Joseph Paintsil has refuted coach Chris Hughton’s assertion that fatigue prompted his substitution in the crucial 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) clash against Mozambique.
Paintsil, a standout performer on the flanks, earned Ghana a penalty converted by Jordan Ayew in the 15th minute, showcasing his dynamic dribbling skills. Despite being a pivotal force in the must-win game, the 25-year-old surprisingly found himself replaced by Andre Ayew at halftime, raising eyebrows and prompting questions about the coach’s decision.
Hughton, defending the move, stated in response to queries that Paintsil appeared fatigued, and introducing fresh legs was the logical decision.
In a video circulating on social media, Paintsil can be heard responding assertively, “What fatigue?” when questioned about the substitution outside the Alassane Ouattara Stadium.
While Ghana managed to double their lead in the second half through another penalty from Jordan Ayew, Mozambique mounted a comeback, securing a draw with two late goals from Geny Catamo and Reinildo Mandava.
Ghana’s chances of progressing to the round of 16 now hang in the balance, with just two points in Group B. However, a glimmer of hope remains as they depend on other match outcomes, particularly Cameroon dropping points against Gambia, and either Algeria and or Zambia losing.
Joseph Paintsil, who has been a key figure for KRC Genk with 19 appearances, six goals, and four assists this season, continues to be a notable presence both on the club and international stage.
The unfolding drama in the AFCON group stage adds further intrigue to Ghana’s journey in the tournament.
Chris Hughton’s game management and tactical concerns
From the onset of the tournament, concerns have been raised about Hughton’s tactics and substitutions with his defensive approach being questioned. The coach has persisted in switching to a double pivot in front of the backline thereby eliminating creativity according to fans. In all three games, Ashimeru who is deemed as the creative talent for the team has always been replaced by either Andul Salis Samed or Baba Iddrisu – two defensive midfielders.
Paintsil, on the other hand, despite his promising runs has yet to last the full throttle of any match. The winger was subbed off in the first game against Cape Verde, got a few minutes climbing off the bench in the second game and was only handed 45 minutes in the game against Mozambique.