CHEIK Tiote is looking to put his African Cup of Nations disappointment behind him – by helping Newcastle progress in the Europa League.
Tiote came off the bench in the Magpies’ Premier League defeat at Tottenham last weekend after returning from South Africa, where his country was knocked out by eventual winners Nigeria.
And the midfielder is desperate to start against Metalist Kharkiv in tonight’s Europa League first leg tie at St James’s Park (8.05pm kick-off).
The tough-tackling 26-year-old has made three appearances in the competition so far.
And manager Alan Pardew, wary of Newcastle’s Ukrainian opposition, could well name him in his starting line-up for what Tiote believes is the biggest game of the season so far.
“We have a chance to go far in this competition,” Tiote said. “It would be a good experience for the club – and for the players as well. If we do the right things, then we can go forward.
“Everybody’s ready to play in this game. Everybody wants to play in it.
“You don’t get a chance to play in Europe too often. We must make the most of it. For me, this is the most important game of the season so far.”
Tiote felt Newcastle were unlucky to lose 2-1 to Tottenham at White Hart Lane, and he insists the players are confident they can claim what would be an important advantage from the first leg ahead of the return at the Metalist Stadium a week today. “We are in a good way now,” added Tiote.
If we play the way we did at Spurs, then we have a good chance to win every single game. We have to work as hard as we did at Spurs.”
Meanwhile, Metalist fear Newcastle’s man-of-the-moment Moussa Sissoko.
The Ukrainians’ coach, Myron Markevich, said: “I’ve looked at Newcastle’s team. They’re very speedy, and play a European style of football. According to their recent games, I can say I like their style of play.
“Against Chelsea, I liked Sissoko, and the two wingers (Yoan Gouffran and Jonas Gutierrez). Also Tim Krul the goalkeeper – he’s a very good player.
“The team is very dangerous, but we will try to do everything we can to win.”
Kharkiv, who will be backed by around 600 fans tonight, have spent the week on Tyneside, showing how serious they are taking the tie.
H Tiote has had his car – a Chevrolet Camaro estimated to be worth around £75,000 – seized by police after he was arrested on suspicion of fraud.
The 26-year-old was stopped yesterday near the club’s training ground on suspicion of fraud in relation to driving offences.
Police said inquiries are ongoing.
NEWCASTLE (from): Krul, Harper, Elliot, Tavernier, Santon, Ferguson, Coloccini, Taylor, Yanga-Mbiwa, Williamson, Perch, Tiote, Bigirimana, Anita, Cabaye, Gutierrez, Marveaux, Obertan, Haidara, Sissoko, Cisse, Shola Ameobi