PARIS (AP) — Newcastle defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa insists he did not mean to hurt Samir Nasri when he hacked down the Manchester City midfielder in the English Premier League on Sunday.
Nasri will be out for eight weeks after partially rupturing ligaments in his knee in the second half of City's 2-0 win. He also has excessive swelling on the knee. Mbiwa was criticized for the wild way he twice swung a boot as Nasri got away from him, and City coach Manuel Pellegrini said he should have been sent off, while Nasri's father also lambasted Mbiwa in the French press on Monday.
"It was more a case of trying to trip him up, but there wasn't any nastiness," Mbiwa told sports daily L'Equipe on Tuesday. "He got the ball and I simply wanted to stop him going forward, to knock him off balance so that he fell. He stayed on his feet after the first tackle and he fell after the second one. But I certainly didn't have the intention of hurting him."
Mbiwa tried to speak to Nasri after the game. "I stayed in front of the changing room, but he was getting treatment. Then I came back and he was in the shower. Afterward I tried by every means possible to get his phone number," said Mbiwa, who has made three international appearances for France. "I called him several times but there was no answer. I left him a message, I tried again (on Monday) but I haven't got through to him yet. I'm going to try again because I would like to apologize in person."
It was initially feared Nasri, who has played 41 times for France, could miss the rest of the season and the World Cup in Brazil. "I felt relieved when I heard that (it was not too serious). I was really bothered about what happened," Mbiwa said. "When I heard that he might have done his cruciates, that he might miss the World Cup, I felt really bad for him. He's a France player after all, and I know what that means."