Jurgen Klopp has reflected on Mohamed Salah‘s failure to qualify for the World Cup at Sadio Mane‘s expense, insisting his “desire will be bigger” as a result.
A month-and-a-half after the Africa Cup of Nations final, the World Cup playoffs once again pitted Egypt against Senegal with only one side able to prevail.
Ultimately, following a 1-1 aggregate draw and a controversial penalty shootout that saw Salah miss after having laser pens obscure his vision, Senegal progressed to Qatar 2022.
That left Salah, the world’s best player, without a place at the tournament later this year – but Klopp believes that will only strengthen his resolve at club level.
“Mo wants to win. That’s why he was very, very disappointed about the fact he couldn’t win the one tournament and did not qualify for the World Cup,” he told reporters on Friday.
“But that’s different competitions. His desire will rather be bigger now than lesser.
“He’s a very smart person, he sees the difference between all these kinds of things.
“I’m pretty sure – we didn’t speak in details about it, to be honest – he knows that Senegal is a really tough team to get in the moment. They have a good generation, you have to say.
“So it was bit unlucky, of course, in moments, that’s how it is, especially with the penalty shootout. But no, nobody has to worry about that. He’s fine.”
It is par for the course, now, that all the focus after Tuesday’s decider has been on Salah’s misery over Mane’s triumph, but Liverpool’s No. 10 deserves immense credit.
Though the conditions in Dakar certainly benefited him, Mane again stepped up to convert a crucial penalty after having done so in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations in February.
In terms of their overall strength, Senegal arguably deserve to be at the World Cup over Egypt, and Klopp was eager to praise their star forward.
“I’m obviously really happy for Sadio, that he could make it, and I’m obviously very disappointed and feel for Mo,” he continued.
“I don’t think the situation around the penalty and the laser was particularly cool, that’s clear as well. So I feel for him.
“But I’m happy for Sadio as well. That’s football, we are used to that. It’s like this all the time.
“It’s different, two mates in such a big game, playing against each other. But they are both top professionals, very emotional people as well.
“I’m pretty sure they will both deal with it in the right way.”