Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has backed Mohammed Salah and Sadio Mane’s decision to travel to Ghana for the upcoming CAF player of the year awards on Thursday despite the Reds much-anticipated derby clash against Everton 24 hours after the ceremony.
The duo were shortlisted in the final three for the coveted gong, which rewards the outstanding African player in a calendar year.
Many aficionados have raised concerns about the timing of the awards as the 18-time English Premier League champions will engage Everton in a crunch Merseyside derby clash.
However, Klopp has insisted that the players will be allowed to travel for the event out of respect for the ceremony.
‘We have everything organised,’ said Klopp. ‘We have two of the three best African players in our squad. We have to show them respect.’
‘If it had been a matchday, they wouldn’t have asked (to go). We sleep in a hotel the night before a game, they will sleep in a plane. That is all the difference.’
The former Dortmund Coach found himself in the similar position when he had Pierre Emerick Augbamayeng- the third contender for the award- in his squad some few years ago. According to Jurgen Klopp, respect must be accorded to the ceremony.
‘For our side, it is just a sign of respect. I know it, I had (Pierre-Emerick) Aubameyang at Borussia Dortmund and there is nothing more important than to go there.’
Sadio Mane scored as Liverpool beat Burnley on New year’s day in the English Premier League but Mohammed Salah was left out of the squad after picking a slight groin injury.
Klopp added, if Salah is out of the Merseyside derby, it will not be for the 6 hour trip to Ghana for the Awards.
“If Mo is not fit, it will not be for that,” Klopp said.
Mohammed Salah is favourite to win the award after scoring 23 goals in 29 appearances for Liverpool since joining from AS Roma in the summer and leading Egypt to the World Cup for the first time since 1990.
Meanwhile, Sadio Mane was an important part of the Liverpool side that finished fourth last season and helped Senegal qualify for the World Cup in Russia.
The award ceremony will be held in Accra on Thursday at the Accra International Conference Center
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