Jurgen Klopp fears torrential rain could turn the pitch for Liverpool’s Asia Trophy game against Crystal Palace into a quagmire, writes Darren Lewis in Hong Kong.
Pitch inspections have been taken ahead of Wednesday’s Premier League-sponsored match at the Hong Kong Stadium with all-day downpours battering the surface.
Further rain is forecast on Tuesday and Wednesday. Weather warnings have also been issued with residents urged to take all necessary precautions.
Controversy surrounded the tournament on the last occasion it was held in Hong Kong in 2013 with the managers of the competing teams unhappy at the “dangerous” state of the pitch.
It has since been relaid at a cost of nearly £3million and hosted a friendly between Kitchee and Spurs played the day after a storm in May.
A month earlier the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens was played out on it.
More rain here in Hong Kong, however, could see both Liverpool and Palace deciding against any potential risk to their players.
“Yeah (its a worry)” said Klopp . “What can I say, of course – I’m a football manager, I’m interested in the game.
“I’m interested in the quality of the game and different things have influence on the quality.
“Players do of course, [and] the pitch is very important, but if it’s bad we can’t change it. We have our first training this afternoon and we’ll see how it is.
“It’s an outside sport so you have to adapt to the weather and for all teams it’s the same. I hope it’s okay and we’ll see.”
A Premier League spokesman said: “We have inspected the surface daily for the last week and are confident in the pitch. The stadium operators have invested significantly in a new surface and drainage system that is of a good standard.”
The trip to Hong Kong is Liverpool’s first for ten years and saw fans camping out at the airport and at outside the team hotel.
Some supporters even tried to grab selfies with the Reds players as the walked through the hotel lobby.
Klopp added: All I’ve seen of Hong Kong is the airport and the hotel – crazy how different it is!
“Actually, it’s probably the highest hotel I’ve ever been in, it’s the first time I’ve seen a helicopter flying and I was higher than it.
“[The fans have been] actually okay, it was nice at the airport.
“The [craziest] was when we went to Australia [in May], we made a little refuelling stop at Phuket, I think it was 3am their time and there were 40, 50 people.
“They couldn’t reach us, we were on the other side of the window but were going crazy.”
Asked whether he’d prefer not to be at Melwood and not on the other side of the world, he went on: “It’s mixed emotions.”
“Of course, yes, I’d like to be on the training ground – but would I like to be earning the same money as they did 20 years ago, no, so that’s not a problem!
“The only thing is everybody takes it so serious – for example if we don’t win the tournament, everyone will be saying, ‘Oh Liverpool are struggling.’
“But we need to handle these circumstances. We still have to play football, but the most important thing is to prepare for the new season.”