Jurgen Klopp defends misconstrued comments on AFCON – “I didn’t mean it like that”

Irony was clearly lost in translation and Jurgen Klopp was not shy in defending himself after his “little tournament” comments regarding the Africa Cup of Nations were misconstrued.

Liverpool are to bid farewell to Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita at the start of January due to AFCON, leaving Klopp without three players for potentially a month.

It’s far from ideal with the competition placed in the middle of the domestic campaign, but it’s something the Reds will have to deal with.

But the storm in a teacup situation came from Klopp’s comments after the win over Arsenal when he replied to a journalist’s question over being relieved that there is no international break until March.

“I’ve heard that so often that there’s no international break until March,” Klopp answered. “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.”

“Little” was clearly said in an ironic tone, as was the rest, but a journalist took offence and said Klopp had insulted the people and the continent of Africa when he took it up with the manager post-Porto.

Klopp looked to swiftly clear the matter up, rightly defending himself over comments that were obviously misconstrued.

“I didn’t mean it like that. I don’t know why you understand it like that,” Klopp said.

“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.

“They 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.

2H75KE5 Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (right) celebrates with his team-mates Sadio Mane and Trent Alexander-Arnold after scoring their side's third goal of the game during the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. Picture date: Saturday November 20, 2021.

“It’s ironic,” he stressed. “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 don’t 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 percent honest.”