Liverpool’s African “imports” are out there making dreams come true
The Merseyside club’s silverware drought may soon come to an end as the Premier League and even the continental race to capture the UEFA Champions League trophy goes down the wire.
They have had to wait for 29 solid years to dream again, of the reality to be declared English champions. The last time they won it, their current captain, Jordan Henderson had just been born. As of now, only a finger nail distance separates them and Pep’s Manchester City, every second, stride and sweat drop counts. This past weekend, Jurgen Klopp’s men swept past a stern Chelsea side who are in hunt for a champions league qualifying spot by netting two with no response.
Like most times if not always, familiar names grabbed the headlines. The Senegalese marksman, Sadio Mane who is enjoying his best Liverpool season statistically, opened the scoring early in the second half. Mane was a privileged recipient of Jordan Henderson’s carefully worked cross and was available to head the ball past Arizzabalaga from close range, for his 18th EPL goal of the season. Just one behind leading scorer, Sergio Aguero and teammate Salah in the race for the Golden Boot. Mane has now scored 21 goals in 41 matches for Liverpool this season, including a super important UCL brace in Munich that ensured the Merseyside’s progression into the quarter-finals.
The points were wrapped up, only a moment after Mane’s goal. The Egyptian king, Mohamed Salah, who had earned a less desired nickname as a “one-season wonder” after going through eight Premier League matches without scoring, delivered a beauty. The 2017/18 PFA Player of the season sprang up from nowhere, wriggled and danced past Emerson before driving his effort into the top corner to score an EPL goal of the season contender. Nostalgic was the word. We were all taken back to the former season where he bagged 32 goals to break Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez record of most goals scored in a single Premier League season. It’s now two in the last two for the Egyptian. He is not doing bad either in the current, as he is joint top scorer with Aguero.
For the most part, it has only been these two Africans delivering the goods for Liverpool. However, the summer signing, Guinean Naby Keita is slowly coming to the party. After failing to net in his first 27 fixtures for the club, the dynamic midfielder now has two goals in his last three matches for Liverpool. So is the Cameroonian centre back, Joel Matip, who is looking an able long term partner for the heralded Virgil Van Dijk in the heart of the Reds’ defence.
All the hard work and money spent comes down to this moment. Liverpool are two points clear off City who have played one game less and with a total of four top flight league matches to play. Their 2-0 advantage over Porto heading into the second leg clash of the champions league quarter-finals means they are very much in the running to possibly capture both the league and UCL titles. They have toiled and came close on numerous occasions but perhaps 2019 is their year.
One thing is for sure, their African talent remains a critical component of that charge and ambition.
As anticipated, the Liverpool and Chelsea EPL fixture grabbed the weekend headlines. So did Senegal, Egypt, Guinea and Cameroon who were well represented as the Reds marched on towards a possible Premier League title.