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Go and fight for AFCON glory, Lijnders tells Liverpool stars

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring his side's second goal with Naby Keita and Sadio Mane during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and West Ham United at Anfield on August 12, 2018 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Rob Newell - CameraSport via Getty Images)

Liverpool assistant boss, Pep Lijnders was asked about Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita heading out for the African Cup Of Nations (AFCON) this week.

The Reds could only pick up a point at Stamford Bridge last night despite going 2-0 up after just 26 minutes. Mane and Salah, unsurprisingly, got on the score sheet, but Jurgen Klopp, Lijnders and co have to find a way to pick up results without their two African superstars in the coming weeks.

Lijnders was asked how his side would cope without Salah and Mane, and the stand-in Liverpool boss claimed that he has faith in the other players.

He also revealed what he told Salah, Mane and Keita ahead of their departure.

The Dutchman said, as per Liverpool’s official website: “It is not a worry because we have faith in the boys we have and a few boys are coming back as well. We know that certain players can play more offensively as well, they have been playing in midfield but they can play more offensively as well.

“I just told the boys as well that Naby, Mo and Sadio: that they should try to win the AFCON because it is a prize to catch and the careers are never long and they deserve to fight for each prize.

“This prize now comes in front of them – it’s a tournament with so much passion, so much culture and it is a really proud situation if you can play for your country, if it’s England or Germany or Holland or whoever and that’s what they have and feel.

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“So they are African legends, they are legends for me, but if they win it they will probably be even bigger legends so they should try with all they have to win it.”

Both Salah and Mane have a great chance of going all the way at the AFCON, which begins on January 9 with the final scheduled for February 7.

Senegal made it to the final of the competition in 2019, but were beaten by Algeria. Salah’s Egypt went all the way into the final in 2017, but they lost as well, which was a real shame.

However, both sides look really strong this time around. Salah is in the form of his life and that is a huge boost for Egypt. Mane scored last night and his confidence will be high as well, which will surely be a huge help for Senegal and all the talented players they have.

Senegal’s opener is against Zimbabwe and they should get the job done quite comfortably. Egypt, on the other hand, have a tougher fixture against Nigeria, but if Salah can step up, they should be able to win the game as well. It will be interesting to see how the two sides will fare in the coming weeks.

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