Magpies reap World Cup dividend

24 November 2013 02:16

Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa is confident Newcastle will reap the rewards of France's qualification for the World Cup finals.

The 24-year-old defender was as delighted as anyone to see club-mates Yohan Cabaye and Mathieu Debuchy help their country overturn a 2-0 play-off deficit to beat Ukraine and make it to Brazil, with Moussa Sissoko and Loic Remy also in the squad.

Yanga-Mbiwa's victorious compatriots returned to Tyneside after last week's heroics weary, but brimming with confidence, and managed to channel their remaining energy into a performance which secured a 2-1 Barclays Premier League win over Norwich.

Manager Alan Pardew is now hoping their attempts to make sure they are part of the festivities in South America, along with Argentina's Fabricio Coloccini, Ivory Coast's Cheick Tiote, Holland keeper Tim Krul and Nigeria frontman Shola Ameobi, will benefit the Magpies, and the former Montpellier defender agrees.

Yanga-Mbiwa said: "All the players are confident. The French team has qualified and all the players are happy and trying to do well to help themselves go to the World Cup."

France boss Didier Deschamps will be keeping a close eye on events at St James' Park over the next six months or so and with Hatem Ben Arfa also desperate to force his way back into contention, there is a huge incentive for Newcastle's French foreign legion.

But asked if he too has hopes of catching Deschamps' eye, Yanga-Mbiwa said: "Oh, I don't know. I try to do well.

"I know the gaffer of the France team watches the games. We won and afterwards, it's up to him to decide if he calls me or not."

In the meantime, the Magpies' French contingent and the rest of their team-mates will concentrate on the task of easing the club further up the table after recording a third successive league win.

It took them just two minutes to get their noses in front as Remy made the most of some less-than-effective defending to head home Cabaye's corner.

Remarkably, it was the first goal Pardew's men had scored from that particular set-piece since October 2011.

Pardew said: "It was important because it was from a set-place, a corner, which we are not particularly good at, and it was well-worked.

"We have been concentrating a little bit in certain ways on set-plays, and it gave us a nice foundation."

Norwich responded and Nathan Redmond wasted a glorious opportunity to level after Michael Turner had caught the home defence flat-footed with a ball over the top.

Anthony Pilkington looped a header across goalkeeper Tim Krul and just wide of the far post, but the home side extended their lead seven minutes before the break when Canaries goalkeeper John Ruddy failed to hold Shola Ameobi's header and Yoan Gouffran pounced from close range.

Newcastle, perhaps as a result of all the midweek activity, wilted somewhat after the break as Norwich stepped up a gear, but it was not until 10 minutes from time that Leroy Fer gave them hope when he powered a header past Krul.

That prompted a late onslaught, but the visitors were unable to trouble the Dutchman further.

The win left the Magpies in eighth place in the table on 20 points after 12 games, and with West Brom due on Tyneside next weekend before tough trips to Swansea and Manchester United.

Yanga-Mbiwa, who played at right-back in place of the suspended Debuchy rather than in his accustomed central defensive role, said: "All matches in the Premier League are hard.

"We need to keep the spirit to win the next game. Afterwards, I know we have two hard games, Swansea and Manchester United. We need to get many points to go up (the table)."

By contrast, defeat left Norwich in 16th place and only a single point clear of the drop zone.

However, there were positives for manager Chris Hughton, the form of 23-year-old summer signing Fer among them.

Hughton said: "He is still developing. If I look at his all-round game, I think there is still improvement in his game.

"It is about him adjusting from playing and being brought up in a Dutch way and particularly generally playing three in midfield to adjusting to what we want from him.

"But he is certainly making good and big strides for us."

Source: PA