Japhet Tanganga 'facing Salah and Mane was not a concern'

By Stanley KwendaBBC Sport
Spurs' Japhet Tanganga (right) tussles with Liverpool's Sadio Mane
Tottenham Hotspur's Japhet Tanganga (right) had an ongoing battle Liverpool's Sadio Mane on his Premier League debut

Young Tottenham Hotspur defender, Japhet Tanganga, says he was not concerned about his Premier League debut despite facing Liverpool stars Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.

England-born Tanganga, whose parents are from DR Congo, drew praise from his manager, Jose Mourinho, despite the 1-0 loss to league-leaders Liverpool last Saturday.

The 20-year-old said that his more experienced teammates helped him prepare for the game.

"Leading to the game the boys were just encouraging me," he explained to the BBC Sport.

"They told me 'Son (Heung-min) is a great player as well, you come up against him in training. Harry Kane, Lucas Moura those are all top players so just go and handle them the way you have been doing in training'.

"Obviously personnel wise it's a little bit different but still they are at the highest level and you are doing it every day, so you should be able to handle it."

He was in no doubt about the task ahead of him last Saturday as he took on Senegal's Mane and Egypt's Salah last Saturday.

"The two are probably up there with the best," he said.

"Mane is African Player of the Year, he is a great player, Salah is a great player."

He went to play a second consecutive game as his side beat Championship side Middlesbrough 2-1 in an FA Cup replay on Tuesday night.

Making an impression

Tanganga has been a Spurs player since he was 10 and has played for England at youth level.

Since he is yet to play a senior competitive game for England he is still eligible to switch to DR Congo and so far has not expressed any preference.

He has though paid tribute to his Congolese father who was instrumental in his journey to becoming a professional footballer.

"My dad was there and he was really pleased," he added.

"He has worked with me so hard for years taking me to football, sacrificing time off work to drop me to games supporting me and watching me.

"Standing there in the cold when it's raining, he's just been there.

"I was just so happy to just see the joy in his face and I am just so grateful for all the help he has given me."

Spurs' boss Mourinho said Tanganga's Premier League debut really showed what he is capable of.

"He played and he proved, he can play for us," Mourinho said after the match.

"I think Mane and Salah they know who Tanganga is, they didn't know before the game, I think now they know, the kid was good."

The Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was equally impressed.

"I didn't know about him, I was obviously surprised when he came up. He was good, impressive for sure," said Klopp.

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