In an interview with ESPN, Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp stated that his players Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah have the opportunity to have a significant impact at the Africa Cup of Nations this week.
Mane and Salah, who both play for Liverpool in the English Premier League, have advanced to the final of the Nations Cup with their respective sides.
With three goals and two assists, Mane has led Senegal to a second straight final, while Salah has done an equally admirable job as Egypt’s captain to reach the final for the first time. On Thursday, the Pharaohs advanced to the semifinals by defeating Cameroon 3-1 on penalties, while Senegal advanced by defeating Burkina Faso 3-1 within regulation time.
“We’ve followed it pretty closely. It is a great achievement,” Klopp said in a presser ahead of Liverpool’s FA Cup fourth round meeting with Cardiff City.
“It [the final] will be exciting on Sunday. One will be really happy after, the other much less so. They both have the chance to achieve something big.”
Both countries overcame sluggish beginnings to advance to the final. Senegal only managed one goal in the group stages, but they reached their peak just in time for the knockout stage, while Egypt recovered from a 1-0 setback to Nigeria in their first game to win the tournament. Senegal and Egypt both qualified for the knockout stage.
“All the experience the boys get in this helps us. It’s impressive to see. It’s important you get through these things. It’s difficult to get that far. The pressure on their shoulders was massive. We will watch it definitely.”
It will be Salah and his teammates’ turn to lift a trophy for Egyp and they’d be attempting to win their country’s eighth Nations Cup championship, while Senegal will be attempting to win their first ever.
The Africa Cup of Nations final will be broadcast live from the Olembe Stadium in Yaounde, Cameroon, starting at 8:00 p.m. local time on Sunday.