Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp said he was “overwhelmed” and saw his players in tears after they completed the biggest Champions League semi-final comeback to beat Barcelona 4-3 on aggregate.
The Reds lost the first leg 3-0 but doubles from GeorginioWijnaldum and DivockOrigi at Anfield took them into a final against Ajax or Tottenham.
“If I have to describe this club then it’s a big heart and tonight it was pounding like crazy,” he said.
“You could hear it all over the world.”
Klopp was almost giddy in his BT Sport interview, checking it was past the watershed before swearing and saying he was happy to pay a fine.
“The whole game was too much,” he said. “Winning is difficult but with a clean sheet, I don’t know how they did it.”
“It means so much to all of us. There are more important things in the world. But creating this emotional atmosphere together is so special. It’s all about the players.
“The mix of potential and unbelievable heart is just a mix I never saw before. It shows what’s possible in football. It’s so nice.”
It is the first time since 1986 – when Barcelona knocked out Gothenburg in the old European Cup – that a team have recovered a three-goal first-leg deficit to win a semi-final in this competition.
“I said to the boys before ‘I don’t think it’s possible but because it’s you I think we have a chance’ – they are really mentality giants. It’s unbelievable,” Klopp added.
“After the season we played, the games we had, the injuries we had now in this moment, if you go out there and ask who bet a penny on us, I don’t think you would find a lot of people.
“We know this club is the mix of atmosphere, emotion, desire and football quality. Cut off one and it doesn’t work.”
Klopp won two Bundesliga titles and a German Cup with Borussia Dortmund but since 2012 has lost two Champions League finals, one Europa League final, two German Cups and a Carabao Cup final.
“I know what people say about me and losing finals, that’s absolutely right,” said Klopp, who guided the five-time European champions to last season’s final, which they lost to Real Madrid. “But it’s the fourth final in that time as well we are in, that’s pretty special already.
“Last year we really felt we have to go back – we cannot let it stand like this, that’s not possible. Now we get another chance and we will go for that, of course.
“I’m not sure if it will happen again because it’s so special. When I saw the boys after the game and saw the tears in their eyes, that’s football. This club touches you like crazy, it’s like you feel much more than others in these moments.”
Wijnaldum said his team had showed “everything is possible in football”.
The midfielder replaced the injured Andy Robertson at half-time and scored twice, with Origi getting the winner.
“After the game in Spain we were confident we could score four and win 4-0,” he said.
“People outside doubted us. They thought we couldn’t do it. But once again we showed everything is possible in football.
“I was really angry that the manager put me on the bench. I just tried to help my team, I’m happy I could do that with two goals.”
The final is in Madrid on 1 June and will be the first since 2013 without a Spanish side involved – that after a run of seven finalists from that country in the past five seasons.
“Who’s going to the final? We are,” said Liverpool left-back Robertson, when asked about a running battle he had with former Reds striker Luis Suarez, whose kick injured the Scot and led to his half-time substitution. “That’s all that matters. Gini went on [for me] and scored two. I don’t care right now.”
Robertson also said this unlikely victory can help his side as they attempt to win the Premier League title on Sunday. They need to beat Wolves and hope leaders Manchester City drop points at Brighton to win their first league title since 1990.
“Fingers crossed,” he said. “We go to Sunday full of energy. It’s out of our hands but we’ve seen stranger things happen. Especially tonight.”
Super Eagles to Play Tunisia As AFCON 2021 Enters Knockout Stage
The Super Eagles of Nigeria will face the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia in the ongoing African Cup of Nations (AFCON) round of 16 fixtures.
The mouth-watering clash was announced on Thursday night following Tunisia’s 1-0 loss to the Gambia — which consigned the North Africans to qualify as one of four best third-placed teams in the group stage.
Nigeria had finished top of Group D after winning all three of its group stage matches.
The tie against Tunisia is expected to be a repeat of the bronze medal match at AFCON 2019 in Egypt where Odion Ighalo’s goal confirmed the Super Eagles’ third place.
It is also a reunion for Austin Eguavoen, Super Eagles interim coach, who faced Tunisia at the quarter-finals stage at AFCON 2006 in Egypt. Nigeria won 6-5 on penalties after a 1-1 draw to advance into the semi-finals.
In other pairings, Cameroon, AFCON hosts, will face Comoros, tournament debutants, while Burkina Faso will play the Gambia, another debutant nation.
Two giants will also clash as Ivory Coast will slug it out with the Pharaohs of Egypt in a repeat of the 2006 AFCON final. Egypt, the then hosts, had won the clash 4-2 on penalties after a 0-0 draw to deny the star-studded Ivorian team.
The round of 16 ties will begin on Sunday, January 23, with Nigeria’s tie against Tunisia one of two matches for the day.
AFCON ROUND OF 16 FIXTURES
- Nigeria vs Tunisia
- Ivory Coast vs Egypt
- Burkina Faso vs Gabon
- Morocco vs Malawi
- Senegal vs Cape Verde
- Cameron vs Comoros
- Mali vs Equatorial Guinea
- Guinea vs Gambia
IPOB Faults Army, Says We Have No Camps in Ihiala, Criminals Not IPOB Members
The Indigenous People of Biafra has said that it does not have any camp in Lilu, Ihiala in Anambra State. The group claimed that they were not militants or criminals, hence do not operate in hidden camps.
The army, had, on Tuesday, through its spokesman, said it dislodged the camps of IPOB and Eastern Security Networks in Lilu, Ihiala.
However, in a statement on Wednesday, the IPOB Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, said that the security agencies only unleashed cruelty on the people living in those communities claiming they were members of IPOB and ESN.
Powerful stated that if criminals take refuge in any community in Biafra land, that doesn’t make them IPOB members or ESN operatives.
He said, “We have also not said there are no more criminal gangs in Biafra land just like every other country even in the advanced western nations. But we won’t accept the tagging of every criminal element found in Biafra as an IPOB member or ESN operative.
“Recall that some of these criminals were already mentioned by IPOB leadership sometime during a broadcast. These hoodlums were a creation of wicked politicians in their desperation to discredit IPOB and ESN.”
The group claimed that the Nigeria Army, Police and DSS keeps dishing out falsehoods against IPOB and ESN by tagging those criminals they arrested as IPOB and ESN members.
It said the so-called camp where these said criminals were arrested does not belong to ESN, “They should stop lying against us,” Powerful said.
The statement further reads, “In Orsumoghu, Nnewi South, Lilu Orsumenyi of Ihiala LGA of Anambra State these criminals whose names are Emmanuel aka (Obereagu), Innocent Obiekee from Isingwu Orsumoghu, Izuchukwu from Amaduru Orsumoghu, Ofordie aka Baby, are the ones impersonating ESN/IPOB members using ESN name to commit crimes against the people of these communities they are not ESN members, the communities involved should use their vigilante group and stop them, ESN will help them too.
“In Orlu, Imo State, these criminals whose names are Agu, 50, Vice, Ojoo are the ones impersonating ESN/IPOB members to demonise IPOB and ESN members, they are sponsored by Hope Uzodinma and his co-travellers and traitors to demonise IPOB and ESN members in Imo State.
“They and their gang are collecting illegal levies at the Eke-Ututu market in the name of ESN when they are neither ESN operatives nor IPOB family members.
“The people are collecting proceeds from innocent communities. Collecting N5,000 from Orlu people in the name of ESN. These names mentioned or listed in this press statement have been declared Persona Non-Grata in Biafraland and they remain so. People must stop giving them money they are not ESN operatives and not IPOB volunteers.
“They have been kidnapping people, snatching cars and raping our women in our territory. IPOB volunteers and ESN operatives have also been making efforts to apprehend these agents of sorrow. We cannot watch these beasts created and sponsored by Hope Uzodinma, his masters in Miyeti Allah and their co-travellers destroy Biafra land.
The statement continues, “Again, ESN does not write letters to people or make calls to people requesting funds, funds for what we ask? IPOB and ESN have no dealings with such evil activities of these criminals who are now on the ESN watchlist. Be warned and stop giving them money in the name of ESN or IPOB volunteers.”
Eguavoen Will Only Earn Bonus, Won’t Earn Salary, Says NFF
Interim coach Austin Eguavoen will be entitled to only win bonuses as the Super Eagles gaffer at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Cameroon, PUNCH Sports Extra reports.
Eguavoen was appointed on a short-term deal after the Nigeria Football Federation sacked Gernot Rohr in December.
Rohr was Nigeria’s longest-serving manager after taking charge in August 2016, but had his contract terminated after leading the Eagles to the 2022 World Cup qualifying play-offs and sealing a spot at the Nations Cup in Cameroon.
The Franco-German also led Nigeria to the 2018 World Cup and guided the team to third-place at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.
“Eguavoen is on the payroll of the NFF and he won’t be entitled to salary for the role he is playing as an interim coach of the team,” President of the NFF Amaju Pinnick stated recently on Arise TV.
“He will be entitled to the winning bonuses as the team progress at the tournament.”
Eguavoen has already won his opening two group games at the tournament which has sealed their place in the round of 16 in the competition