The head coach of the Senegal national team has called out Liverpool boss, Jurgen Klopp for his comments about the Africa Cup of Nations, after referring to the major competition as a “little tournament.”
The German manager, following his side’s 2-0 win against Porto, was embroiled in a fiery exchange with an angry reporter, who pointed out what he said when he described the African Cup of Nations as a ‘little tournament’ while talking about international breaks.
Speaking via video link to Klopp, a journalist demanded an apology but Klopp moved to defend his comments as he referred to losing the likes of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane to the event starting in January.
‘I think it’s an insult to the players, an insult to the fans, an insult to the people on the continent and I think you owe the continent an apology.’
Klopp replied: ‘I didn’t mean it like that. I didn’t mean it like that, I don’t know why you understand it like that to be honest…’
The journalist then rebuked: ‘That was what you said, I listened to the presser and you said the continent in Africa [is little], that is what you said.’
Klopp then defended his comments: ‘I didn’t mean it like that, come on. So I was not even close to it being the idea in my mind that I want to talk about the African Cup of Nations as a “little tournament” or the continent of Africa as a little continent, not at all.
‘What I meant was, if you watch the whole press conference then you might have understood it the right way if you wanted to, because I said there are no international breaks until March now.
‘I said “oh there’s a little tournament in January” and I didn’t mean a little tournament, I was just saying it’s still a tournament, it’s ironic. It’s still a tournament, a big one. We lose our best players to that tournament…’
Senegal boss, Aliou Cisse, was not impressed with his comments and has highlighted that the German’s success is down to his African players.
“Who does Klopp think he is?” he said, according to the Daily Express.
“I manage Senegal and my players play for Klopp at Liverpool.
“I respect Liverpool but not Klopp undermines African football events.”
Cisse, a former Portsmouth midfielder then added;
“He is where he is today because of African footballers,” Cisse continued.
“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.” he added