Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp wanted to clarify his use of the phrase “small tournament” in reference to the African Cup of Nations tournament, insisting that it was intended to be a frustration in an ironic sense and not an insult to the tournament.
Klopp explained to an offended journalist that his comment, which came after a 4-0 win against Arsenal on Saturday, was a way of expressing his frustration at losing vital players at an important stage of the season.
Liverpool will lose Mohamed Salah, Naby Keita and Sadio Mane for the month-long tournament, which runs from January 9 to February 6.
Responding to a reporter on Saturday, who asked if Klopp was “relieved” to have gone through a busy period without “any international breakup until March,” Klopp laughed and replied, “I’ve heard that so often that there’s no international breakup until March. “. March. In January, there’s a little tournament in Africa, I just want to say, and I think Asia is playing too, South America too, great, I can’t wait. “
Klopp spoke at his Champions League post-match press conference after Liverpool achieved a fifth consecutive victory in the competition to beat Porto 2-0 on Wednesday.
After a journalist said that Klopp had insulted the players, fans, people and the African continent with the comment, Klopp replied: “I didn’t mean it like that. I don’t know why you understand it like that.
“It doesn’t even come close to the idea in my mind that I want to talk about AFCON as a small tournament, or the continent of Africa as a small continent, at all.
“What I meant to say is, because people said, and if you watch the entire press conference, if you wanted to understand it in the right way, you could have understood it in the right way. I said ‘there is no international breakup until March’ and I said : ‘Oh, and there is a small tournament in January’, and I did not mean a small tournament, as you say when there is still a tournament. It is ironic. There is still a tournament. A big one. We lose our best players to the Cup African of Nations.
“I’m not a native speaker, but if you want to misunderstand me you can do it all the time. I know I would never think like that. I never understand why you thought like that to be honest, but that’s really not right, because I would never do that, but that’s all now.
“It wasn’t my intention, but you did something about it. That’s not that good to be 100% honest.”
Klopp praises Thiago’s ‘ball of thunder’
After the 2-0 win, Klopp praised Thiago Alcántara’s “thunderball” goal that set them on the road at Anfield.
The Spanish international broke the deadlock with a delicious 25-yard low half volley for the first time, which subsequently added to Salah’s sixth European goal of the season.
It was only the second time Thiago has found the net for an uninterrupted 14 months since he arrived on a £ 20 million move from Bayern Munich, but it was a hit worth waiting for.
“We had better chances in the game, but we scored with that situation,” he said of the midfielder’s first game in the 52nd minute.
“Whoever sees Thiago training knows that he has the technique to do it, but even with this technique it doesn’t happen constantly that he can shoot a ball of thunder like that. It was a good moment, a great goal.
Liverpool have poked fun at their so-called ‘Group of Death’ with their loot of 15 points, a club record for the group stage, but Klopp said now was not the time to assess how well they were playing.
“We could have lost this game tonight, we gave away opportunities when they could have scored so we shouldn’t take too much of it as we got lucky at times,” he said.
“We had moments where we were not well to play, I did not expect that tonight because we changed decisive things to be honest.
“We weren’t expecting the guys to be a push machine right away, but to grow up in the game and that’s what happened. A lot of good things happened tonight, but I’m not sure we should make the mistake of saying we are this or that”. again.
“We will know at the end of the season, but we are in a good moment and we should try everything to keep it that way.”
Liverpool’s games during AFCON (January 9 to February 6)
W / C January 10: Possible second leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final
January 15: Brentford (H)
January 23: Crystal Palace (A) – live on Sky Sports
February 5th: Potential fourth round of the FA Cup
February 9: Leicester (H)