Senegal boss Aliou Cisse claimed he has no respect for Jurgen Klopp after his comment about AFCON, and insisted Liverpool owe their success to African players.
Jurgen Klopp has made no secret of his distaste for packed fixture lists. Feeding into his dismay are the persistent breaks for international football where a sizeable chunk of Liverpool’s stars travel the world to play for their countries.
Liverpool will face significant disruption in the new year when the twice-delayed Afirca Cup of Nations finally takes place.
The Reds will be without Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, along with midfielder Naby Keita.
Klopp was previously asked about international breaks and bemoaned the impending exits of his stars once again.
“I’ve heard that so often that there’s no international break until March,” he responded (via the Express).
“In January, there’s a little tournament in Africa, I just want to say, and I think Asia is playing games, too – South America as well, great, can’t wait.”
Klopp’s description of the AFCON as a “little tournament” drew attention, though the German later clarified his comment when insisting his intention wasn’t to belittle the tournament or African people in general.
Klopp clarifies “little” comment
“I didn’t mean it like that. I don’t know why you understand it like that,” Klopp snapped back (via the Express).
“It’s not even close to the idea in my mind that I want to talk about AFCON as a little tournament, or the continent of Africa like a little continent, not at all.
“What I meant is, because people said, and if you watch the full press conference, if you wanted to understand it in the right way you could have understood it in the right way.
“I said: ‘there’s no international break anymore until March’ and I said: ‘Oh and there’s a little tournament in January,’ and I didn’t mean a little tournament, just like you say it when there’s still a tournament. It’s ironic.
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“There’s still a tournament. A big one. We lose our best players to the Africa Cup of Nations.
“I’m not a native speaker, but if you want to understand me wrong you can do that all the time. I know that I would never think like this.
“I never understand why you thought like this to be honest, but that’s really not OK, because I would never do that, but that’s it now.
“It was not my intention, but you made something of it. That’s not so cool as well to be 100 per cent honest.”
But despite his clarification, Klopp’s comments have drawn stinging criticism from Sadio Mane’s international boss, Aliou Cisse.
“Who does [Klopp] think he is?”
Per the Express, Cisse gave the German both barrels, stating: “Who does Klopp think he is?”
“I manage Senegal and my players play for Klopp at Liverpool.
“I respect Liverpool but not Klopp who undermines African football events. He is where he is today because of African footballers.
“He was losing every final until Salah, Mane, Matip came to his rescue to win his first-ever major European final.
“Today, he has the guts to call AFCON a ‘small tournament’. AFCON has the same number of participants, 24, as the UEFA Euro. So who does he think he is?
“AFCON will have the same superstars that are currently helping him to shine at Liverpool. AFCON is the same quality as the Euros.”