Jurgen Klopp says Liverpool ‘on fire’ as they chase Premier League, Champions League double

Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp takes part in a press conference at the training ground on the eve of a UEFA Champions league quarterfinal against FC Porto. (AFP)
Updated 08 April 2019

Jurgen Klopp says Liverpool ‘on fire’ as they chase Premier League, Champions League double

  • German believes being in the running to win both competitions is inspiring his squad
  • Reds thrashed the Portuguese side 5-0 in last season’s Champions League

LIVERPOOL: Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says his players are revelling in the pressure to win every game as they chase a Premier League and Champions League double.
Klopp’s men host Porto in the first leg of their European quarter-final tie on Tuesday after scoring late winners to beat Fulham, Tottenham and Southampton to edge two points ahead of Manchester City in a titanic title race.
City still have a game in hand on Liverpool, meaning the title remains in the English champions’ hands, and there is precious little room for error for the Reds in their remaining five league games.
But Klopp believes being in the running to win both competitions is inspiring his squad not to give up late in games.
“It’s such a good time. We get up every morning and the weather is good as well which is pretty rare. It’s warm outside, spring is coming and we are in the two big competitions, but we have to use the situation,” he said on Monday.
“We have not finished the season, we have not finished our development.
“We want to write a few proper things on the pages of that season book. We are on fire to be honest, you can see it in training, but other teams as well. We all play for a lot.”
After squeezing through a difficult group containing Paris Saint-Germain and Napoli on goals scored and overcoming German giants Bayern Munich in the last 16, Porto were seen as a softer draw in the last eight.
Liverpool thrashed the Portuguese side 5-0 in last season’s Champions League last 16, but Klopp said the tie is tougher than it seems.
“People around said so many things, ‘you want Porto’, they only look at numbers and names, stuff like that.
“People with a proper idea about football didn’t want to have Porto, that’s the truth. But nobody wanted Liverpool as well by the way.”
Klopp will be forced into a change at left-back, with Andy Robertson suspended, while Joe Gomez will not be rushed back into action despite returning to training after a lower leg fracture.
Liverpool have largely coped without Gomez thanks to Virgil van Dijk’s towering presence at the heart of a much-improved defense.
And the Dutchman believes he and his teammates will be able to hold their heads high even if they fall short of ending a 29-year wait to win the Premier League due to City’s brilliance.
“Everyone is dreaming of it and the unlucky bit for us is another team in the league has been amazing as well,” said Van Dijk.
“For the neutral Premier League watcher it is great viewing, it is nice to see two good teams challenging for the title.
“Hopefully it can be something great at the end of the season, but we can hold our heads up very high.”


Mayor of town in north Japan bemoans lack of Olympic funds

Updated 15 September 2019

Mayor of town in north Japan bemoans lack of Olympic funds

  • Tokyo is reportedly spending about $20 billion to prepare the city to host the games
  • Tokyo organizers have faced a series of hurdles as they prepare to host the games

TOKYO: The mayor of a town in northeastern Japan that will host Olympic soccer games says his city has received no funding from the central government that has promised to use the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to help in the reconstruction of the region.

The Japanese government and Tokyo 2020 organizers are hoping to use the Olympics to showcase Japan’s recovery from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Several Olympic events, including soccer and baseball, will be held in northeastern Japan.

But with less than a year to go before the opening ceremony, Yutaka Kumagai, the mayor of Rifu in Miyagi Prefecture, says his city has seen no funding from the central government.

“There is no help from the government, we don’t have any budget from them, none,” Kumagai said on Saturday. “Tokyo 2020 is said to be a symbol of the reconstruction but when it comes to the budget, we don’t have any budget from the Olympic games here in Rifu.”

Kumagai made the comments during a media tour of Miyagi Stadium, a 49,000-seat facility in Rifu that will host men’s and women’s football at the 2020 Olympics.

About 50,000 people are still displaced in the Tohoku region as of August, according to the Reconstruction Agency. Yoshiaki Suda, the mayor of Onagawa in Miyagi Prefecture, concurred with Kumagai. Like Rifu, Onagawa is a coastal city that sustained heavy destruction.

“We haven’t received any subsidy, even one yen, from the central government,” Suda said. “Whatever we do for the venues, for the hospitality for the Olympics, we have to do ourselves.”

Some media reports have made the claim that the Olympics have hampered the reconstruction efforts, taking workers away from the region to help with construction in Tokyo.

Japan is one of the most earthquake- and tsunami-prone areas in the world. On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 quake offshore caused a tsunami that triggered meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The quake and tsunami heavily damaged coastal neighborhoods in northeastern Japan and took more than 18,000 lives.

Tokyo, which projected total costs of about $7.5 billion in its winning bid for the games in 2013, is reportedly spending about $20 billion to prepare the city to host the games.

A group of anti-Olympic activists, many from outside Japan, have held small protests and other events this summer under the Japanese title “Han-gorin no Kai” — which translates roughly to No Olympics. They oppose Olympic spending, which they say cuts into budgets for housing and environmental issues.

They also call for more money to rebuild Fukushima prefecture located northeast of Tokyo. Organizers say Fukushima is a main focus of the Olympics, staging baseball, softball and soccer games there to persuade the world the area is safe.

Tokyo organizers have faced a series of hurdles as they prepare to host the games. In August, Tokyo’s summer heat forced an Olympic women’s triathlon qualifying event to be shortened because of high temperatures that are likely to impact next year’s games.

Tsunekazu Takeda, the head of the Japanese Olympic Committee, was forced to quit earlier this year when he was implicated in a vote-buying scheme to land the games. He has denied wrongdoing, but acknowledged he signed off on about $2 million that French investigators allege went to buy votes.