Jurgen Klopp tells Liverpool only ‘exceptional’ will do against Bayern Munich

Mohamed Salah will need to be at his best if the Reds are to get through to the last-eight. (AFP)
Updated 12 March 2019

Jurgen Klopp tells Liverpool only ‘exceptional’ will do against Bayern Munich

  • Reds draw 0-0 against German giants in first leg.
  • Klopp only too aware of threat Bayern pose.

MUNICH: Jurgen Klopp has warned Liverpool they will need to be at their brilliant best if they are to beat Bayern Munich and reach the Champions League quarterfinals.
Three weeks ago the Reds drew 0-0 at home to the German giants to leave the tie poised on a knife-edge heading into the clash at Bayern’s Allianz Arena. Klopp’s side know a score draw will send them through on away goals, but he is only too aware that their hosts are feeling confident, unbeaten in all competitions since the start of February and on top of the Bundesliga table for the first time this season.
That all adds up to one thing for the Liverpool boss — a “normal” performance will not be good enough to go through.
“We are strong enough to give them a proper game and that’s the only thing you can expect in a situation like that, in a good situation,” the German said.
“That’s what I’m thinking about — how can we cause them problems they have never had so far against other opponents?
“They are, of course, really strong opponents. But if we are at our best we can be exceptional. But we have to be, actually — if we play a normal game there we have no chance and then we should go out.
“But if we can push ourselves in a special mood and play a
proper football game, then
we have a proper chance and that’s all I need.”
Liverpool looked back to somewhere near their best in their 4-2 win over Burnley at the weekend. That followed four draws in six matches. Ironically a draw could well be enough for them tonight, but despite not winning the first leg at Anfield Klopp admitted the result was not all bad, saying: “With a 0-0 everything is clear. You have to win the game. That’s what you always want. In this specific case, you can win the game with a draw as well, but it’s all clear — we have to play a really good game.”
Having coached Borussia Dortmund — Bayern’s big rivals in Germany — he knows all about the side’s most potent weapon Robert Lewandowski having coached him at Dortmund. The Polish striker is the top scorer in the competition this season with eight goals, but Klopp has told his team they cannot focus solely on Lewandowski.
“Robert is a world-class striker, no doubt about that,” he said.
“The more you can avoid the passes and crosses to him, the better it is. That’s what we are all working on and that’s what we have to work on actually.
“Of course, it’s not only Robert.
“What makes it so exciting, you go through the Bayern team and think, ‘Wow, they are really strong’ and then you think, ‘Ah, we are not too bad as well!’ That’s cool.”
One thing for sure is that Bayern will attack more than they did at Anfield when they showed a defensive discipline not normally associated with the German club. Niko Kovac has backed his players to do what they need to do the make the last eight.
“If we want to progress, we have to win,” the Bayern boss said.
“It won’t be 0-0. We will see support in the stadium that we haven’t seen for a long time.
“These are the games all of my team, especially a player like Franck Ribery lives for. He still has it in him to leave his mark on games like this.”

KSA’s martial arts heroine: ‘I got into kickboxing by coincidence, as I just wanted to join a gym’

Updated 19 March 2019

KSA’s martial arts heroine: ‘I got into kickboxing by coincidence, as I just wanted to join a gym’

  • Young Saudi triumphant at Open International Tournament despite just two years of training
  • Zahra Al-Qurashi took the gold in the women’s 70 kg category, beating Jordanian Heba Wasfi

JEDDAH: Zahra Al-Qurashi never expected to be where she is today: A gold medal winner in full contact kickboxing at the Open International Tournament for Clubs aged just 21. What started out as a gym class two years ago soon turned into a passion, leading to her victory in Amman on Sunday.

“I got into kickboxing by coincidence, as I just wanted to join a gym. I found the class and gave it a try, and decided to keep attending the classes,” she said. “A year ago, I joined Flagboxing Gym, and started training with my coach Grethe (Kraugerud). With her help, I developed my style and I am improving every day.”

Full contact is a discipline of kickboxing where punches and kicks must be delivered to legal areas of the body. According to the World Association for Kickboxing Organizations’ rules, it is legal to attack the front of the head and front and side of the torso, using “ankle-level foot sweeps.” It is prohibited to attack the throat, lower abdomen, back, legs, joints, back of the head and top of the shoulders.

A medal at her first international competition, then, speaks volumes about Al-Qurashi’s tenacity. She took the gold in the women’s 70 kg category, beating Jordanian Heba Wasfi.

“As soon as I entered the ring, everything went blank, I couldn’t hear or see anyone but my opponent, so I don’t really recall hearing my name even,” said Al-Qurashi. “I got a couple of really good kicks and punches, but she was a good opponent. I was in my own zone though, following every move and made sure I didn’t make mistakes.”

Zahra Al-Quraishi, 21, is already a gold medal winner at an international event despite being a virtual rookie in the demanding sport of kickboxing. (Supplied photos)

Hala Al-Hamrani, the owner of Flagboxing Gym in Jeddah, said: “I am over the moon. I have dreamt about this happening for 16 years, ever since I started coaching. My goal was to eventually provide the ladies of this country with an opportunity to compete.”

For approximately two months, Kraugerud, from Norway, oversaw Al-Qurashi’s workouts, adding more sparring, interval training and intense ring practice.

“I’ve had Zahra spar with men, who are bigger and stronger than her, to give her a sense of what to expect in the ring, to give her more confidence and make her mentally prepared,” said Kraugerud. “I was very proud of her as she entered the ring, you could see the respect for the sport reflected in her. We did a really good job at Flag, we really pushed for this together as a team. She’s young, but she’s talented and she will go far.”

Al-Hamrani, a member of the Saudi Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Federation, added: “We got her ready by providing her with the right practice and training. It’s a dream come true and it’s very overwhelming because it was such a long process for something like this to happen. Zahra is an up-and-coming athlete who hopefully has a long future and I’m extremely excited to see what that future holds.”

Abdul Aziz Julaidan, chairman of the Saudi MMA Federation, hailed the result after a tough bout between the two competitors, and thanked Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, chairman of the General Sport Authority, for the support he had given to the team.

Upon returning to her hometown of Jeddah, Al-Qurashi was greeted by her mother. “I was hugging her and crying and mom, being mom, asked if I was crying because I got hit,” she laughed. “That was her way of saying: I’m proud of you.”