Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp believes the decision to move the Africa Cup of Nations back to its traditional January slot is a “catastrophe” for the club.
The tournament was due to be hosted by Cameroon in July 2021 and would have followed the expanded Club World Cup, which is set to feature Liverpool in the 24-team group stage.
But the Cameroonian soccer federation announced Wednesday that the African showpiece will instead be held from Jan. 9 to Feb. 6 to avoid the country’s rainy season.
That is likely to mean Klopp will be without Senegal’s Sadio Mane, Egypt’s Mohamed Salah and Guinea’s Naby Keita for some or all of the six-week period.
“The African Cup of Nations going back to January is, for us, a catastrophe,” Klopp said Friday. “We will not sell Sadio, Mo or Naby now because they have a tournament in January and February. Of course not.
“But if you have to make a decision about bringing in a player, it is a massive one because before the season you know for four weeks you don’t have them. That’s a normal process and as a club you have to think about these things.”
Klopp has been a long-time, outspoken critic of a bloated and often chaotic fixture schedule which has what he feels are unnecessary clashes at both international and domestic level.
He has been vocal in his opposition to the festive calendar, two-legged League Cup semifinals and FA Cup replays, in addition to the clash between the Club World Cup in Qatar and League Cup quarterfinals in December which forced Liverpool to field a youth team in the domestic defeat at Aston Villa.
However, Klopp fears he won’t be listened to.
“It is like the biggest waste of time ever. ‘The Moaner from Liverpool’ or whatever is again on track,” Klopp said. “As long as nothing changes I will say it all the time. It is because it is about the players, not one second about me.
“There are so many things to sort but all these guys never find time to sit around one table and make a general schedule. All these different games to play and no break for the players. Let’s respect that, but if you have that break don’t make a replay in this break. This would help massively.”
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