Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has given reasons for branding the Africa Cup of Nations tournament as a “little tournament” after a Nigerian journalist confronted him.
Ojora Babatunde of OJB Sports had said, “Hi Jurgen, during your last pre-match presser, you deliberately called the Africa Cup of Nations a ‘little tournament’.
“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 explained to the offended journalist that his remark – which came after the 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 are set to lose Mohamed Salah, Naby Keita and Sadio Mane for the month-long tournament, which runs from January 9 to February 6.
“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,” the coach had said on Saturday.
The journalist had said Klopp had insulted the players, fans, people, and continent of Africa with the comment.
Klopp while replying during his Champions League post-match press conference after Liverpool had secured a fifth straight win in the competition to beat Porto 2-0 on Wednesday, said, “I didn’t mean it like that. I don’t know why you understand it like that.
“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. 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.”