Liverpool and Alan Kennedy look to rerun history against Real Madrid in Kiev

Real Madrid CF and Liverpool FC football teams will play the UEFA Champions League final match in Kiev on May 26, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 21 May 2018
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Liverpool and Alan Kennedy look to rerun history against Real Madrid in Kiev

LIVERPOOL: With eight minutes of the 1981 European Cup final remaining, Liverpool left-back Alan Kennedy made one of his trademark bursts forward, broke into the Real Madrid penalty area and drove home a left-footed finish to settle a tense, tactical battle.
Unlikely, unforgettable, he had the historic distinction of being the matchwinner in two finals, having also netted the decisive penalty in the shoot-out victory over AS Roma three years later.
“So proud,” reflected Kennedy. “It was a wonderful time to be a Liverpool player.”
On Saturday, the Reds meet Real again in Kiev to contest European club football’s most prized trophy.And the memories of that Paris triumph will never fade for the 63-year-old, nor will being part of a lauded Liverpool team.
“That was their mentality and Liverpool were rightly the top team in Europe,” Kennedy, who also lifted five League titles for the Reds during his eight-year stay at Anfield, said. “It was a great era, great times, but the be-all and end-all for any footballer, should be about winning trophies.”
Liverpool’s strength and focus was emphasized in that Parc des Princes showpiece. Before kick-off they had to cover up sponsor’s logos on their shirts to appease UEFA and TV broadcasters. They had concerns about the fitness of influential striker Kenny Dalglish and Kennedy himself after a broken wrist had sidelined him six weeks earlier.
“I think when you put obstacles in the way of that Liverpool team, the better they played,” he told Arab News. “We had issues with TV rights, about the state of the pitch, issues about the fitness of players, me included, but we went out to play the game and win.”
Formidable foes, Bob Paisley’s side dominated Europe in much the same way Zinedine Zidane’s side are doing at the moment. On Saturday they will seek to become the first side to win three European Cups on the bounce since Bayern Munich in 1976.
“Real Madrid are the champions and fantastic in the competition with their history,” said Kennedy. “You have to respect what they have done.
“Everyone expected Liverpool to be in contention for all the trophies too and that’s what we wanted, to push ourselves to as many finals. We wanted to win everything. Maybe we were a bit greedy, but we felt we could do it.
“I don’t think we were arrogant, although our play suggested we were good at what we did. We played a system that was attack all the time no matter if we were under the cosh or defending.
“It was a great team, everyone knew their jobs, we didn’t change for anyone. We were single-minded about winning. We had set the standards and were under pressure to win every game.”
As favorites, Real will be under similar pressure as they seek a 13th title. And Kennedy believes that his former club can claim a sixth European Cup and their first since the famous 2005 triumph over AC Milan in Istanbul when they came back from 3-0 down.
“I know it will be a great game, difficult to call,” he said.
“But I would be saying to the Liverpool players that you can win it, you are good enough to win it. Go out and play the same way you
have all season. If they do, I think they will win it.
“They may concede, but they should not change their style.”
And nor should they, as attack has been the best form of defense for Liverpool this season. In Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah, there is a frontline blessed with pace, panache and potency.
Salah, rightly, has received accolades — including the PFA and Football Writers Player of the Year awards — after a stunning debut season following his £36.9 million ($49 million) arrival from Roma.
A landmark 42 goals — a record 32 in the Premier League — and ability to create chances have seen the Egyptian ranked alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
But, for Kennedy, there can be no comparison to Dalglish, arguably the greatest Kop king.
“Kenny was special, a different type of player, always on the shoulder of the defender,” he added. “Salah comes in from the wing and scores spectacular goals. Liverpool play to his strengths as he is forever getting into the box and the right position.
“For me, Kenny, over 10 seasons, was Liverpool’s top player at that time, fantastic, and it’s difficult to put them side by side. Salah’s been wonderful, but never had a season like this before.”
Madrid’s talisman Ronaldo has. Another 43 goals for the five-time Ballon D’Or winner shows he remains a force at 33.
“I’ve always had utmost admiration for Ronaldo,” said Kennedy. “He has this ability to score in finals and show how good he is. One chance, he takes it.
“But that’s been the same with Salah too. The goals he has scored, he seems to see what comes ahead. It will be interesting to see who comes out on top.”


Iraq coach Katanec looking for performances over results in Saudi friendly

Updated 14 October 2018
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Iraq coach Katanec looking for performances over results in Saudi friendly

  • On Friday, Iraq were heavily defeated by Argentina, 4-0
  • Iraq coach Srecko Katanec has emphasised the importance of his team’s performance in Monday’s friendly against Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Iraq coach Srecko Katanec has emphasised the importance of his team’s performance in Monday’s friendly against Saudi Arabia as he seeks to build ahead of next year’s Asian Cup in the UAE and the qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
“Really, I don’t care about the results,” Katanec told Arab News. “What will be, will be. I hope that I will see good things from our players — personality and nothing more. I will just ask the players to give all that they have. Nothing more, nothing less. If you want to show too much in a game, that behavior can be a problem also.”
On Friday, Iraq were heavily defeated by Argentina, 4-0. Katanec fielded a reinforced five-men defense, but to little avail as Lautaro Martinez, Roberto Pereyra, German Pezzella and Franco Cervi all got on the scoreboard. “To prepare a friendly match with two training sessions… with players that I don’t quite know — how they are, how their behavior is and all these things, that’s difficult but anyway we are here, that is our job,” said Katanec
Ali Adnan from Atlanta in Italy and Justin Meram from Columbus Crew in the US started against Argentina, but the new Iraq coach may ring the changes against Saudi Arabia, a team he rates highly.
“I will give a chance to all the players who are now with us,” said Katanec. “I hope that we will be at a very good level. Saudi Arabia is a good team, a 100 percent. If they participated in the World Cup, they deserved it. They also played quite good football in Russia, even in the first game: a part of the first game, but the following two matches they were very solid. I know, in this region you have good players. Saudi Arabia have invested a lot of money in football and that’s important. So, big respect for them. They can show, if they can, that they are better than us, but we will also try to do our best.”
In September the Slovenian was appointed coach of Iraq, succeeding Basim Qasim.
Katanec enjoys a wealth of experience in the international game, having guided his native Slovenia to the 2002 World Cup finals in Japan and South Korea. He also coached the United Arab Emirates from 2009 and 2011, but his 2011 Asian Cup campaign ended in disappointment as his team failed to register a single point in a group with Iraq, Iran and North Korea.
The 55-year-old considers the friendly against the Green Falcons a part of the learning curve for Iraq as they look toward the 2019 Asian Cup and the qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup. In November, Iraq have confirmed a friendly against Jordan in preparation for the continental tournament where they will face Iran, Vietnam and Yemen in group D.
“These friendly games are very important in that I will know what to do before the Asian Cup,” explained Katanec. “We need information: how the players are, what their condition is like at this moment. You know, the media at all times want to put some pressure on all of us, but until now I am very satisfied with how the team works.”