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Belhanda apologises for Giroud criticism

  • 3 May 2012
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MONTPELLIER, France (AFP)
Younes Belhanda

Younes Belhanda apologised on Thursday after criticising his team-mate Olivier Giroud for refusing to take a penalty in Montpellier's 2-2 draw with Evian on Tuesday.

Belhanda was sent off in injury time of the game following an altercation with Evian's Cedric Mongongu, moments before Souleymane Camara failed to score a penalty that would have sent Montpellier eight points clear at the Ligue 1 summit.

Instead, Montpellier's faux pas allowed second-placed Paris Saint-Germain to close the gap to just three points with three games of the season remaining, and defending champions Lille are two points further back in third.

Belhanda subsequently gave an interview to sport daily L'Equipe, published on Thursday, in which he accused Giroud of "not assuming his responsibilities" by allowing Camara to take the spot-kick against Evian.

However, in a statement on his Facebook page that appeared on Thursday evening, the 21-year-old Moroccan playmaker said he had spoken out of turn.

"I'd like to apologise to my team-mates for the buzz that my comments caused," Belhanda said. "It was frustration that made me talk and I shouldn't have spoken to the press."

He added: "I'd particularly like to apologise to Souley and Olivier. I'll be with the squad 100 percent until the end, even if I can't express myself on the pitch."

Belhanda's red card means he is likely to miss Montpellier's remaining games this season.

He left training early on Thursday following a meeting chaired by Montpellier president Louis Nicollin, but coach Rene Girard said he had simply gone for an x-ray on his fibula.

Girard earlier expressed frustration at the story that had appeared in L'Equipe.

"The s(expletive) is not our doing," he told reporters.

"There was a problem in the match against Evian. It's (the media's) job to be honest and says who's responsible for the s(expletive).

"I read L'Equipe this morning. There's a whole paragraph saying that Belhanda clashed with Mongongu and two lines saying that Mongongu hit Belhanda twice. I don't understand."

He added: "There are more interesting things to see at Montpellier, or maybe it shows that people don't like the club. We don't need that. We want to work in peace. I've read everything except the truth."

Montpellier visit Rennes on Monday evening, by which time they could find themselves second in the table if PSG win at Valenciennes on Sunday.

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