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African All Stars

Liverpool’s Klopp unsure when Salah, Mane and Keita will leave for Afcon

12:54 GMT+3 28/11/2021
Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita of Liverpool.
The Reds boss reveals talks to delay the departure of the three African players ahead of the kick-off of the 2021 continental finals

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is not sure when Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, and Naby Keita will join their respective national teams for the Africa Cup of Nations finals.

The 33rd edition of the biennial international men’s football championship of Africa is scheduled to be hosted by Cameroon and will take place from January 9 to February 6, 2022.

The tournament was originally scheduled to be played in June and July 2021 but Caf announced on January 15, 2020, that due to unfavourable climatic conditions during this period, the tournament would take place from January 9 to February 6, 2021.

On June 30, 2020, Caf moved the tournament for the second time to January 2022 following the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic across the continent, whilst retaining the name 2021 Africa Cup of Nations for sponsorship purposes.

Liverpool are among the team across Europe that are set to lose their key players for the continental finals, and speaking after the team hammered Southampton 4-0 in a Premier League fixture at Anfield on Saturday, the former Borussia Dortmund coach revealed no decision had been made so far on the departure of the players.

Asked if Mane and Salah will play against Chelsea on January 2 before they go to Afcon, Klopp told the club’s official website: “Not really, it’s early for that, we’re still talking. Yes [we are hoping].”

Klopp also indebted Liverpool’s prolific scoring numbers this season to Mane and Salah, saying their performances have been incredible.

“And this year we had a pre-season that was a proper pre-season, which was incredibly helpful. Especially up front with Sadio and Salah, they had the longest pre-season I’m pretty sure they had for ages and that was helpful,” Klopp continued.

“So we could really work on a lot of things and found the stability back. Talking about stability, I was not happy with the chances we conceded today [Saturday], to be honest.

“We have to be as stable, serious, and ruthless defensively as somehow possible. That gives us then the platform to play football and then we can create and then we can score.

“It will not be forever like this that we score two goals per game but it happened so far. So, good. But if we win a game 1-0 then I’m happy as well.”

With the Afcon finals expanded from 16 to 24 teams, at least six venues are expected to be used across five Cameroonian cities.

The six stadiums selected to host matches are the Olembe Stadium and Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo in the capital Yaounde, the Japoma Stadium in Douala, the Limbe Stadium in Limbe, the Kouekong Stadium in Bafoussam and the Roumde Adjia Stadium in Garoua.

The opening match of the tournament – pitting Cameroon against Burkina Faso - and the final, are set to take place at the newly built 60,000 seater Olembe Stadium in Yaounde.