MOUSSA Sissoko is focused on leading Newcastle United to a derby victory – after proudly taking the captain’s armband.
Sissoko skippered the team in Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat to Arsenal.
I came here to play in the big games. And I know for Newcastle as a club, when you play against Sunderland, it’s a big game. I want to win this game for my team first and for the fans as well.Moussa Sissoko
And the 25-year-old will lead John Carver’s side out against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on April 5.
“I came here to play in the big games,” said Sissoko.
“And I know for Newcastle as a club, and for all the fans, when you play against Sunderland, it’s a big game.
“I want to win this game for my team first and for the fans as well.”
After conceding two sloppy goals to Arsenal before the break, injury and suspension-hit Newcastle fought back in the second half.
Sissoko, stand-in captain during Fabricio Coloccini’s three-game ban, netted in the 48th minute, and United created chance after chance as they pressed hard for a second goal.
But Arsenal held on to claim all three points, and United dropped one place to 12th in the Premier League table.
Sissoko – in the France squad for this month’s friendlies against Denmark and Brazil – believes he and his team-mates can take encouragement from their second-half performance ahead of their next game on Wearside.
“In the second half we created a lot of chances,” said Sissoko.
“We scored quickly, and we tried to score the second goal, but we didn’t, and we are little bit disappointed.
“When you are losing 2-0 at half-time, it’s hard to win the game, but the team showed good character.
“We have to learn from this game and try to be better in the next game.
“After the national team, we play against Sunderland.
“It will be a massive game. We lost the last three games against them, so have have to do something and try to win the game for us first and for the fans as well.”
Carver, also without injured vice-captain’s Cheik Tiote and Siem de Jong, felt Sissoko was the outstanding candidate to skipper his team.
And Sissoko is happy to shoulder the extra responsibility during Coloccini’s suspension.
“I’m happy to be captain,” he said. “I know it’s a big responsibility.
“I think I’ve showed some good things – that’s why the manager chose me. I was happy.
“After, for me, it’s the same. Whether I’m captain or not, I try to do my best for the team.
“I tried to do my best (against Arsenal). I’m a little bit sad, but we have to try to be better for the next game.
“We played well. We showed good mentality and character against a big game.
“We have to do like this every game, and take three points from the teams at the bottom.”
Carver felt after the game that his team’s spirited fightback had answered former Everton captain Phil Neville’s claim, made after the previous weekend’s dismal 3-0 defeat at Goodison Park, that his already players “had their flip-flops on” ahead of the summer.
And Sissoko added: “People talk a lot, but we know what we have to do.
“We work every day at the training ground. We want to do the best and finish in the top 10.
“We’ll do the best and see at the end of the season.”