Cheick Tiote

By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter

Cheick Tiote faces some awkward small talk when he links up with the Ivory Coast national team this week - and comes face to face with the man who scored Wigan's last minute winner on Sunday.

His compatriot Arouna Kone forced home from close range after Maynor Figueroa's handball was not spotted by the officials but the pair will be team-mates on Saturday when the Elephants take on Gambia in a World Cup qualifier.

Newcastle star Tiote is still smarting after the controversial defeat at the DW Stadium, which saw Massadio Haidara stretchered off following a Callum McManaman challenge, but will put that to one side for the sake of the national team.

Kone's goal was an 11th of the season in all competitions and perhaps his most important yet as the Latics try to climb out of the Barclays Premier League relegation places.

And Tiote told nufc.co.uk: "I've known him for a long time but that's football.

"When we are on the pitch, we're not friends but when the game is finished we can talk together. It was handball but the referee made a mistake. I think we deserved more but that's finished now.

"Everyone is still disappointed about the result. I thought we played well as a team but then we conceded a very sloppy goal which was handball, but the referee didn't see anything."

The late goal wasn't the only talking point as the fall out from Haidara's injury continues. The 20-year-old - making only his second top flight appearance in England - is still being assessed while the Football Association decided that they could not take any action against McManaman, who was not even booked by Mark Halsey.

Tiote has picked up plenty of yellow - and red - cards for less and the midfielder admitted: "I think that's a decision for the referee. Sometimes they make mistakes - it's not only the players - and we saw that with the tackle and the last goal. But he didn't see anything so that's bad for the team.

"I think we did everything for the fans. We played as a team, we did well together and we tried everything to make them happy. We were all left disappointed by the result but it wasn't all our fault.

"It was really difficult for us because I think it was a really strong challenge on Massadio and I hope he will be back as soon as possible because we need him. He's a good player and I hope he will be okay."

And while Tiote is looking forward to playing for his country for the first time since their semi-final exit from the African Cup of Nations, he admitted that he is already thinking about the next Newcastle fixture away to reigning champions Manchester City.

"It's finished now and we have nearly two weeks until we play against Man City, so I think we need to think about the next game," he said.

"It would be good to have another game straight away but that's football. Now we have no match for a week because we've got an international break. After that, we need to come back together and do everything to be ready for the game against City."

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