Jurgen Klopp said it was "a catastrophe" for Liverpool to learn next year's Africa Cup of Nations has been moved to start in January.

The tournament in Cameroon had been due to be played in June and July, during the off-season for many European leagues, and Liverpool had been planning accordingly.

However, concerns over weather conditions at that time of year meant it was decided to move it on the calendar, which also means there will be no clash with an expanded Club World Cup in China.

While the Africa Cup of Nations will go ahead in cooler temperatures, there was no disguising Klopp's heated response to the decision.

"[It's] for us a catastrophe in that moment losing three players," Klopp said.

"We have absolutely no power. If we say we don't let him go, the player is suspended. How is that possible that the company who pays the player cannot decide if the player has to stay or not?"

He could lose the likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita for weeks on end, putting a major dent in plans for what could be a season where Liverpool, this term's runaway leaders, are defending the Premier League title.

Klopp admitted his transfer plans could also be affected by the Confederation of African Football's (CAF) decision, saying it was a move that did African players no favours.

The tournament will run from January 9 to February 6, CAF said.

"Do we really want to open this book now?" Klopp asked, when the subject was raised in a news conference on Friday.

"I couldn't respect the African Cup of Nations more than I do. I like the competition and I've watched it a lot in the past. It's an obvious problem that you play a tournament in the middle of the season.

"I get it that it makes more sense for Africa to play it maybe in our winter, their winter as well, so when the weather is better for them.

"A couple of things which are not OK – one thing is, FIFA plans a tournament [the Club World Cup] in the summer of 2021, a week later or so than the actual Africa Cup of Nations will have started [under the previous plans], I think, or maybe two weeks later, another tournament for a lot of world-class players.

"I mentioned that in the past. I'm not sure if that was part of the decision, when they thought it makes no sense to play it after that tournament so let's play it again in the winter, I don't know.

"Or was the weather the real [reason]? It means another tournament. It's too many tournaments, still.

"The other thing is, it doesn't help African players. We will not sell Sadio, Mo or Naby now because they have a tournament in January or February, but if we have to make a decision about bringing in a player, it's a massive one.

"These decisions are made without asking players, without asking managers, without asking anybody, it's just a decision. FIFA doesn't look like being involved. They're happy having their 24-team [Club] World Cup, offering a lot of money for all the clubs involved. We forget these tournaments are played by players - they don't have a break."

CAF has decided to move the Africa Cup of Nations back to January for the 2021 edition of the tournament, which is to be held in Cameroon.

The 2019 tournament – hosted by Egypt and won by Algeria – was held in July, as CAF elected to move the tournament to fit in line with the northern hemisphere summer, meaning clubs in Europe's major leagues were unaffected.

However, sweltering conditions in Egypt led to the decision to switch to tournament to June and July being questioned.

Now, it has been confirmed by hosts Cameroon that the 2021 AFCON shall take place in January and February due to concerns over the weather should the tournament have taken place later in the year.

"The AFCON 2021 will be played in Cameroon from January 9 to February 6, 2021," a post on Cameroon's football federation's official Twitter account read.

"Dates [have been] changed for meteorological reasons at the request of Cameroon."

Cameroon was initially scheduled to host last year's tournament, but was stripped of it in November 2018 due to inadequate infrastructure.

CAF has decided to move the Africa Cup of Nations back to January for the 2021 edition of the tournament, which is to be held in Cameroon.

The 2019 tournament – hosted by Egypt and won by Algeria – was held in July, as CAF elected to move the tournament to fit in line with the northern hemisphere summer, meaning clubs in Europe's major leagues were unaffected.

However, sweltering conditions in Egypt led to the decision to switch to tournament to June and July being questioned.

Now, it has been confirmed by hosts Cameroon that the 2021 AFCON shall take place in January and February due to concerns over the weather should the tournament have taken place later in the year.

"The AFCON 2021 will be played in Cameroon from January 9 to February 6, 2021," a post on Cameroon's football federation's official Twitter account read.

"Dates [have been] changed for meteorological reasons at the request of Cameroon."

Cameroon was initially scheduled to host last year's tournament, but was stripped of it in November 2018 due to inadequate infrastructure.

Mohamed Salah faces competition from Liverpool team-mate Sadio Mane and Manchester City's Riyad Mahrez in his bid to be named African Player of the Year for the third time in a row.

The Premier League stars have been named as the final three contenders for the award, which has belonged to Egypt international Salah for the past two years.

Algeria winger Mahrez won it while still at Leicester City in 2016 but Mane looks to be Salah's closest competitor after twice finishing as runner-up to his fellow Anfield favourite.

Mane has scored freely throughout 2019 and helped Senegal reached the Africa Cup of Nations final, which they lost to Algeria.

Cameroon's Ajara Nchout, Nigeria and Barcelona forward Asisat Oshoala, and last year's winner Thembi Kgatlana of South Africa are shortlisted for the African Women's Player of the Year award.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony in Hurghada, Egypt on January 7.

Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah has been ruled out of Egypt's Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Kenya and Comoros due to a persistent ankle injury.

Salah has been managing an issue since hobbling out of Liverpool's win over Leicester City last month, having been on the end of a rugged late challenge from Hamza Choudhury.

The 27-year-old looked to be in pain again in Sunday's mammoth clash with Manchester City.

He was caught by Fernandinho during Liverpool's 3-1 victory, initially staying down before playing on until the 87th minute, and was seen with his foot strapped up at full-time.

Salah joined up with his international team-mates on Monday, but the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) has announced Salah will play no part against Kenya or Comoros.

"Medical tests have confirmed Salah is not ready for Kenya and Comoros," a statement on the EFA's official Twitter page read.

Salah has nine goals in all competitions for Liverpool this season, including five in his past seven outings.

Egypt face Kenya in Alexandria in their first qualifier of the group stage on Thursday before travelling to Moroni four days later.

Egypt have appointed Hossam El-Badry as their new coach.

The three-time Al Ahly boss succeeds Javier Aguirre in the role.

Aguirre was dismissed after Egypt's disappointing performance at this year's Africa Cup of Nations.

Egypt won all three of their group games without conceding a goal but Mohamed Salah and his side then suffered a shock exit, losing 1-0 to South Africa.

El-Badry, a former defender who played international football for Egypt, won the 2012 CAF Champions League in his second spell at Al Ahly.

They were beaten in the final two years ago and he left the club in May 2018 despite winning the Egyptian league title.

Vahid Halilhodzic has been named as Morocco's new head coach, replacing Herve Renard at the helm for the Atlas Lions.

Morocco had been on the lookout for a coach since the resignation last month of Renard, who has since taken over the Saudi Arabia national team.

Renard quit following Morocco's shock Africa Cup of Nations last-16 defeat to Benin.

The vastly experienced Halilhodzic has arrived in his place, having most recently coached Nantes in Ligue 1, where he previously led Paris Saint-Germain from 2003 to 2005.

Halilhodzic boasts a varied background on his international CV, having guided Ivory Coast, Algeria and Japan to World Cup qualification.

Upon his appointment, confirmed by the Moroccan FA on Thursday, the 67-year-old said: "Coaching Morocco is a big responsibility and an honour.

"My first objective is to qualify for the World Cup. I will try to qualify a fourth consecutive national team."

The Moroccan FA said on its website that Halilhodzic has signed a four-year contract.

One of Halilhodzic's first coaching roles saw him in charge at Raja Casablanca, one of Morocco's biggest clubs, as they won the CAF Champions League in 1997.

Pep Guardiola revealed Riyad Mahrez cut short his holiday following the Africa Cup of Nations, giving Manchester City a boost as Bernardo Silva dealt with an issue at West Ham on Saturday.

Mahrez captained Algeria to the AFCON title on July 19 but returned to start against West Ham in City's Premier League opener, providing two assists in a 5-0 win.

Guardiola was delighted to be able to call on the former Leicester City winger as he revealed Silva, a star of last season's title success, was left on the bench due to "little muscular problems".

"Riyad called me after they won [the AFCON]," Guardiola said. "He said, 'I need just 10 days. I want to come back soon. I want to play'. I like it. That's why I decide, 'Okay, I want to play him'.

"Bernardo had done nothing wrong, but there was some little muscular problems.

"I want them to know I trust all of them. That is the truth. After four seasons, I don't not like one player who is with us. I trust with them and they have to compete with opponents and with each other."

From West Ham's side, the post-match narrative involved complaints of City's apparent tactical fouling, with Manuel Pellegrini attributing this to his team's lack of creativity.

But Jack Wilshere had no issue with City's tactics, suggesting West Ham need to learn from such elite opponents.

"That's football," he said. "When you play against experienced players who understand the game, it's going to happen

"You can't get frustrated. They're clever players. A team like us who like to attack could learn from that. They do that counter press. They lose the ball and bang, they go straight away.

"They're going to make fouls. If you do get out of it, it happens so quickly and they bring you down."

Stuart Baxter has resigned from his post as coach of South Africa with immediate effect.

South Africa shocked Africa Cup of Nations hosts Egypt en route to the quarter-finals in June, but Baxter, whose second spell in charge of Bafana Bafana began in 2017, believes the time is right to move aside.

The former Finland and Kaizer Chief's boss has said it is the correct time for South Africa to move into a new cycle, as focus switches to qualification for the 2021 AFCON and 2022 World Cup.

"I feel it's time for someone else to take over and I have decided to resign from my position. It is my personal decision," Baxter told BBC Sport.

"Going to the AFCON, this squad had not lost in a year, something that was not easy considering we were introducing new players.

"I've chosen not to point fingers and I will refrain from that. Choosing not to answer some misleading media coverage is something that's also hard to do."

South Africa beat Egypt 1-0 before going out to Nigeria in the quarter-finals have scraped through from their group after losing two matches.

Herve Renard has resigned as coach of Morocco after three and a half years in charge.

The Royal Moroccan Football Federation earlier this week denied reports the Frenchman had stepped down, but Renard used social media on Sunday to confirm he has left his post.

Morocco endured a disappointing Africa Cup of Nations campaign, exiting the competition in shock circumstances in the round of 16 with a 4-1 penalty shoot-out defeat to Benin following a 1-1 draw.

The 50-year-old took over the Atlas Lions in February 2016 and guided them to the 2018 World Cup in Russia, their first qualification in 20 years.

"Morocco will always remain for me a country with which I lived incredible emotions," he wrote in a statement posted on Twitter. "I am proud of what we have achieved and how far we have managed to come.

"It is time for me to close this long and beautiful chapter of my life, not without emotion and sadness, but it is an inevitable decision taken well before AFCON 2019."

Renard has led both Zambia and Ivory Coast to AFCON glory during his coaching career.

Djamel Belmadi revelled in Algeria's "extraordinary, historic" Africa Cup of Nations final victory over Senegal.

Algeria became champions of Africa on foreign soil for the first time - adding to their 1990 success as hosts - thanks to Baghdad Bounedjah's decisive, deflected second-minute strike.

Belmadi believes his side deserved their triumph but deflected praise onto his players.

"It's extraordinary. It's historic," he told beIN Sports. "This is the first Cup of Nations we have won outside our borders.

"Since 1990, it has been a long, empty passage. We are a football country. We deserve it, I think.

"It was a very complicated match, very difficult. We knew that it was going to be decided on a small detail. And the boys held on.

"With the tournament we had, with better attack and better defence, what more? But without the players, I am nothing.

"We tend to forget that they are the main protagonists. They are the ones who play, who apply the instructions. They did it wonderfully - if not better."

Algeria became Africa Cup of Nations champions for a second time as they edged Senegal 1-0 in a scrappy final on Friday.

Djamel Belmadi's side needed a sensational last-gasp Riyad Mahrez winner to beat Nigeria in the last four, but it was a scrappy early strike that decided this clash as Baghdad Bounedjah benefited from a huge deflection.

Further chances were few and far between in an ill-tempered affair as Algeria withstood almost constant pressure and also saw a Senegal penalty award overturned with VAR.

The single goal ultimately proved enough to hold on, Algeria triumphing on foreign soil for the first time to add to their 1990 success as hosts.

Algeria's fortuitous opener arrived inside two minutes. Bounedjah cut inside from the left and saw a powerful strike loop up off the lunging Salif Sane, dropping over static goalkeeper Alfred Gomis into the top-right corner.

Senegal responded well, getting into dangerous positions and winning countless free-kicks, mainly through Sadio Mane, but their final ball was repeatedly found wanting.

Frustrations threatened to boil over late in the first half, with Mane escaping punishment for an off-the-ball shove on Sofiane Feghouli, although M'Baye Niang went close with a fizzing long-range drive.

The two sides came together to confront the referee at the break - Senegal bemoaning a non-penalty award for Ismaila Sarr - and Algeria substitute goalkeeper Alexandre Oukidja went down claiming contact in the ensuing fracas.

And Senegal were further infuriated on the hour mark when a spot-kick initially awarded as Adlene Guedioura blocked Sarr's cross with his arm was struck off following a VAR review.

Niang rounded Rais M'bolhi but could only blaze high and wide, before the goalkeeper turned Youssouf Sabaly's blast over the crossbar.

Aliou Cisse's side kept pushing, yet there was no way through and Algeria clung to a scarcely deserved victory.

John Obi Mikel has announced his retirement from international football after helping Nigeria to third place in the Africa Cup of Nations.

The Super Eagles lost to Algeria in the last four in Egypt, but atoned for that disappointment to a degree with a 1-0 win over Tunisia in the third place play-off.

That game marked the last appearance in a Nigeria shirt for Mikel, who confirmed the end of his career for his country in a post on Instagram.

It read: "Egypt is a country where I've started and have finished my national career. In 2006 I played my first official championship for my country. [The] 2019 Africa Cup of Nations marks my last championship for national team with Super Eagles. 

"My national career started in 2003 [at the] under-17 World Cup and I'm grateful for the national team for placing me on the world arena and giving me an opportunity to show my skill and have an incredible national and international career.

"At the age of 32 it's time for me to retire from the national team and let the youth take over, who've done an amazing job securing a bronze medal at AFCON 2019. 

"Thank you to all my Nigerian supporters and to my country for all the trust, support and love you've shown me over the past 15 years.

"Mikel am out!"

MIkel won the AFCON in 2013 and collected a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympic Games, while he also featured for the Super Eagles at the 2014 and 2018 World Cups.

Old friends Aliou Cisse and Djamel Belmadi go up against each other for a shot at history as the two coaches take centre stage ahead of Friday's Africa Cup of Nations final.

There is little doubt Cisse's Senegal and Belmadi's Algeria have been the two standout sides at the 2019 AFCON, suffering just one defeat combined.

That single loss came in the group phase when Algeria defeated the Teranga Lions 1-0, with Senegal now having the opportunity for revenge.

But do not expect vengeance borne out of animosity to be on the mind of Cisse, as he and Belmadi know each other well having been former Ligue 1 adversaries.

The two coaches grew up in the same Paris suburb, Champigny-sur-Marne, while Senegal-born Cisse is just a day older than his counterpart.

Having had numerous tussles in their youth, in domestic French football and also at the AFCON as players, the two now do battle again with historic achievements on the line; Senegal hope to win the tournament for the first time, while Algeria have never lifted the trophy without being hosts.

"I haven't spoken to Aliou," Belmadi told reporters on Thursday. "It's not the time to talk right now, but we will talk after the game. Before the game also, there will be no problem.

"It's extraordinarily ironic that the two kids who grew up together in Champigny-Sur-Marne are now facing each other in the final. We should check if anything like that ever happened in the past.

"We used to play together as young boys in Paris. We grew up in the same city.

"It's amazing that we are now the head coaches for our national teams. Fate brought us to this final. It has a special taste."

Cisse remained entirely fixed on the task at hand, however, and is convinced the early defeat to Algeria has served a purpose by allowing Senegal to learn more about themselves.

"The second group match was a misstep on our part and this defeat allowed us to regroup, to be even stronger," Cisse said.

"Friday is a final, it's a special match, but it's not a question of holding a speech like going to war. We stay in football. We are very calm and focused."

Senegal will be without the suspended Kalidou Koulibaly, though Cisse insists he has a plan to cope without the Napoli star.

"Kalidou is one of the best in his position in the world, but we have the solution to replace him. We are ready," Cisse added.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Senegal – Cheikhou Kouyate

With key man Koulibaly absent, extra responsibility will fall on the shoulders of Kouyate. The experienced midfielder, who has featured as a centre-back at the AFCON, will likely be the senior figure in a defence that needs to stay alert – Algeria's forward options have been lively and potent throughout the tournament.

Algeria – Riyad Mahrez

While he has not necessarily lit the tournament up consistently, Mahrez's glorious late free-kick secured Algeria's spot in the final. It was his third goal of the competition, proving that even when he is not at his very best, he can still be an inspirational figure.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Algeria are unbeaten against Senegal in four AFCON encounters (winning three, drawing one). Moreover, the Teranga Lions are the team the Fennec Foxes have faced most without losing to in the AFCON.
- Senegal will play their second AFCON final, after 2002 (defeat to Cameroon). The Senegalese have won their last four games, their longest winning streak in the competition.
- Algeria will play their third AFCON final after 1980 (a 3-0 defeat to Nigeria) and 1990 (a 1-0 win, also against the Super Eagles). They have conceded two goals in the 2019 AFCON, only in 1984 have they conceded fewer in a single edition, whey they finished third, letting in one goal.
- Senegal forward Sadio Mane is the player who has attempted (34) and completed (20) the most dribbles.
- Nine Algeria players have been involved in at least one goal (excluding own goals) during the 2019 AFCON: Youcef Atal, Youcef Belaili, Ismael Bennacer, Ramy Bensebaini, Baghdad Bounedjah, Sofiane Feghouli, Riyad Mahrez, Adam Ounas and Islam Slimani. That is more than any other team.

Jurgen Klopp is wary of Sadio Mane's lack of rest heading into the new season, with the Liverpool star's campaign yet to come to an end.

On the back of a gruelling 2018-19 campaign, Premier League Golden Boot joint-winner Mane has scored three goals to help Senegal to the Africa Cup of Nations final.

Friday's showdown with Algeria in Cairo ends a season which has lasted close to 12 months for the 27-year-old, who also featured for his nation at the 2018 World Cup.

Liverpool's season starts on August 4 with the Community Shield clash against Premier League champions Manchester City at Wembley.

Newly promoted Norwich City then travel to Anfield on August 9, in the opening Premier League fixture of 2019-20.

And Klopp acknowledged his concern over Mane's readiness for the new season, confirming Liverpool are yet to decide when Mane will return to the fold.

"With Sadio, we have to see about him after the final – how he is feeling and stuff like that," Klopp told Liverpool's official website.

"It will be really difficult. Sixteen days before we play City, his season is finished. We will have to make a decision, but we haven't made it yet."

While Mane's return date is yet to be established, Klopp – whose squad are on tour in the United States – revealed Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and goalkeeper Alisson will return for a training camp in Evian later in July.

The trio have all been afforded extended breaks following their participation in the AFCON and Copa America respectively, with Klopp confident they will have enough time to prepare for the City fixture.

"It means we have nearly a week until City, a strong 12 days until Norwich and then 15 or 16 days until Chelsea [in the UEFA Super Cup]," Klopp said.

"We have to see. The good thing is, when you have a short break you don’t lose a lot. 

"I would have preferred it if they had come back after a week, but that would make absolutely no sense. So, [they have] these three weeks and then we will have them here for pre-season."

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