Mohamed Salah won’t stop at 40 for the season, says Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp

Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring against Bournemouth on Saturday. The Egyptian now has 40 for the season. (AFP)
Updated 15 April 2018
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Mohamed Salah won’t stop at 40 for the season, says Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp

  • Egyptian became first Liverpool player since Ian Rush to reach 40-goal mark
  • Klopp: 'What a number. Wow'

LIVERPOOL: Jurgen Klopp believes Mohamed Salah has not finished in his efforts to rewrite the Liverpool goalscoring record books after the Egyptian international took his tally for the season to 40 goals in a 3-0 Premier League victory over Bournemouth.
But the German manager also insists that Salah will not be distracted by his quest for the Golden Boot award, for the Premier League’s leading scorer, as Liverpool seek to end a memorable season by winning the Champions League.
Salah, in his first season at Anfield, became the first Liverpool player since Ian Rush in 1986-87 to reach the 40-goal mark and only the third from the club ever to reach that landmark after Rush and 1966 England World Cup winner Roger Hunt.
But Salah has reached his 40 quicker than either of his predecessors and, with potentially seven games remaining for his team, may yet challenge the all-time club record, currently held by Rush who scored 47 goals in a blistering 1983-84 campaign.
“Really it’s 31 years? He doesn’t look that old. He must have been 14 when he scored his 40 goals,” joked Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp about Rush, when told Salah had become the first Liverpool player since the Welshman to hit 40.
“But Mo knows what this means and the way we play suits him. For him, for the boys, it’s fantastic and today he certainly didn’t look like he doesn’t want to score in the next few games.
“It’s all about him, all about us and how we finish the season. Normally, in that situation, to be top of the goalscoring list at the end and win the Golden Boot, or whatever it’s called, means you have been successful as a team, but we can’t force it. But it’s good, impressive. What a number. Wow!“
There was certainly a “wow” factor about the manner in which Salah claimed his 40th, and the 30th in the league this season, after 69 minutes.
Trent Alexander-Arnold’s hanging cross into the Bournemouth area allowed Salah to peel away from his marker Nathan Ake and flick the most perceptive of finishes with his head over keeper Asmir Begovic.
Either side of Salah’s goal were efforts from Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, taking their respective Liverpool tallies for the season to 25 and 17, meaning the prolific front three have now combined for an astonishing 82 goals between them this season.
Firmino’s 90th minute third goal made it 300 for Liverpool in well under three seasons since Klopp took over, but he insisted they can still improve in attacking areas by not always looking for Salah.
“What a number we’ve scored as team over the whole season,” added Klopp.
“That’s really good and we have to carry it on for a few games to come. I have seen the boys looking for Mo but we have to mix it up a little bit.
“He’s the threat but it’s good to analyze it with the boys afterwards, we show them and they listen. A lot of times we are in a position shooting and they cannot always give the ball to him. So we can still improve in this situation to use his threat and pass the ball somewhere else.”
With Anfield in the mood to celebrate the superb midweek Champions League victory over Manchester City, Mane gave the home crowd something to cheer about when he met a seventh minute cross from Jordan Henderson.
Begovic did well to save the initial header but Mane reacted quickly to blast in the loose ball.
And after Salah took center stage, Firmino rounded off a fine afternoon for the hosts when he converted clinically from 18 yards after being picked out by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Bournemouth took four points from Liverpool last season, but having been swept aside in both meetings this campaign, Eddie Howe believes Liverpool’s improvement makes them serious contenders to win the Champions League.
“Comparing Liverpool to last season, they have really improved, grown as a team, as they have shown through the season,” said Howe. “Of course they can win the Champions League.”


India and Pakistan ready to renew rivalry in Dubai showdown

Updated 18 September 2018
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India and Pakistan ready to renew rivalry in Dubai showdown

  • India brace for Pakistan after surviving stern test against minnows Hong Kong
  • Usman Shinwari: Any player who performs well in an India-Pakistan match will find his career reaches a new high

DUBAI: As delirium sweeps the UAE ahead of the mouth-watering encounter between arch rivals India and Pakistan in the Asia Cup, it seems one man — at least outwardly — is not as excited as the rest of the country and cricketing fans the world over.
India captain Rohit Sharma played with a straight bat when asked about the biggest clash in world cricket, set to take place today at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. On his first Asia Cup media outing the 31-year-old seemed unconcerned by the impending showdown with their fiercest opponents, his focus instead on facing Hong Kong, who Sharma and Co. had a big scare against on Tuesday.
“Right now, we are not focusing on Pakistan as (first) we are playing Hong Kong,” Sharma said on Sunday. “Obviously we have to focus on that particular team but once we have finished that game we will focus on Pakistan and what their strengths and weaknesses are.”
These are clearly the words of a man so media trained that by now he could easily be on the other side of the desk, asking the same questions he and his colleagues sometimes enjoy batting back with crafted clichés that speak of focusing on “one game at a time” or the like.
Sharma was clearly right to not take his eyes off the ball with Hong Kong — they are not here to merely make up the numbers, as their brilliant, battling performance on Tuesday illustrated. But at the same time, Sharma will be all too aware that as India skipper the one match you do not want to lead your side to defeat in is the one against Pakistan, regardless of competition and location.
Clearly India are not leaving Pakistan preparations to the 14 hours or so (sleep included) between the close of the Hong Kong clash and the toss prior to resuming Indo-Pak cricketing rivalry. To suggest they are would be naive at best.
A year on from Pakistan’s show-stealing Champions Trophy final victory over the old enemy in June last year, and a whole five years since the two sides met outside of an ICC or ACC event due to strained political relations, the appetite for the first of potentially three matches at this year’s Asia Cup is huge and one borne out of starved hunger.
Pakistan’s Usman Shinwari, fresh off defeating Hong Kong on Sunday, was more candid than Sharma.
“Any player who performs well in an India-Pakistan match will find his career reaches a new high, and every player dreams of doing well in this contest,” the fast bowler said. “I took three wickets (against Hong Kong), I hope that can be five wickets against India.”
Shinwari’s sentiments were echoed by his captain, Sarfraz Ahmed, who is absolutely clear on the levels of expectation that this fixture demands from fans on both sides of the border.
“The passion is always there,” said Sarfraz. “When you play against India everyone wants us to win as it’s against India.
“The fans say that whatever happens you have to win but as a captain I have to win against every team. It would be the same for India whose fans want them to win. It has happened in the past that any player who performs in the Indo-Pak match becomes a national hero.”
UAE cricket fans cannot wait for the clash. It took just a few hours for the first batch of tickets to be snapped up, the second bought in equally ravenous fashion. It has left a huge number of tickets now being touted across online marketplaces, social media platforms and, ultimately, will likely see the inflated resales being pawned outside the stadium on matchday too.
An expected 25,000 fans will swell the Ring of Fire, set to deal not only with cricket’s most fierce rivalry but also with all the unpredictability that will be thrown their way.
The famed traffic jams around Hessa Street, leading up to the stadium, and local entrances of Dubai Sports City will heave and efforts have been made to ease the burden of vehicles that will cart both sets of fans in and out of the area. Gates will open from 12p.m. local time, a whole three and a half hours before the first ball has been bowled. In an emirate where the last-minute rush is a daily fact of life, this will be not be an easy thing to execute but that, alongside the immense presence of volunteers and security, should prove welcome additions to the day’s running order.
This, though, is India vs Pakistan. Anything could happen.