“I talked to the coach (Wenger) and the most important thing is to have the support of the people around you, who have faith in you, the staff, my team-mates. “Anyway we can only answer on the pitch and that is also why the FA Cup was important.” Giroud, though, will not hold any grudges, adding: “I am not really angry at him (Henry), we will talk about that together. “It is true that I found it surprising, but that is just football. “I don’t hold it against him and we will have a laugh about it when we see each other again.” Giroud’s goal at Wembley was a first in some nine appearances, having earlier been in rich scoring form, and saw him start on the bench as Theo Walcott was given his chance following a hat-trick on the final day of the Barclays Premier League season against West Brom. The French international, however, stressed he had no issues with Wenger’s decision and overall was happy with his season. “I had three difficult months. It was the first time I had been injured for so long, there was a lot of work to do, I had to be patient, work harder,” Giroud added. “Some people said that I came back stronger. I did some good work to get back in shape, re-boosted and balanced physically. “After that, I was very clinical and had good fortune. I had very good statistics in spite of a little drought at the end of the season. “It’s still a super season, and is great to end with a trophy.” Arsenal are expected to further strengthen the squad in the summer. Veteran Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech is a well-reported target, along with Monaco’s defensive midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia and Morgan Schneiderlin at Southampton. Arsenal’s pre-season campaign includes a trip to the Far East for the Barclays Asia Trophy Singapore during mid-July, which will also feature Stoke and Everton. Giroud, though, also suffered his fair share of critics, especially in the wake of a disappointing personal display as Arsenal lost 3-1 at home to Monaco in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie. Henry, who is Arsenal’s record goalscorer and spearheaded the Invincibles side, went as far as to claim manager Arsene Wenger need to sign “a top, top-quality striker in order to win this league again” in the wake of the goalless draw with champions-elect Chelsea on April 26. While the World Cup winner has since moved to clarify his post-match TV pundit comments, claiming “people took it a bit the wrong way,” and instead stressing that “Olivier Giroud needs help”, the Gunners frontman will continue to take everything in his stride. “It is part of the game. I will never win unanimous support,” Giroud said at a press conference as he prepared with France for Sunday’s international against Belgium. “Apparently Titi (Henry) corrected himself recently, he said that he was thinking about competition, that he wanted Arsenal to have many strikers who can score goals. “He was a little brutal at the time, so it caused a fuss, but that is what he’s asked to do as a pundit and I didn’t lose any sleep over it. “Of course, it hurts your pride, it brings into question the work you do every day. “It irritates you, and I was a little annoyed, but I quickly put it behind me. Giroud took his tally to 19 with a late goal in Arsenal’s 4-0 win over Aston Villa in the FA Cup final at Wembley last weekend. It was a positive end to a campaign which had seen the France forward sidelined for some three months with a broken leg, then battle back into the side following the £16million deadline day purchase of Danny Welbeck. Arsenal forward Olivier Giroud is not about to lose any sleep over “brutal” criticism on his game from former Gunners striker Thierry Henry or anyone else. Press Association
“Senegal have a magnificent team. There are young players, a lot of whom have played in France and now in England.”Having waited for the call that never came, Koulibaly was astounded to hear France coach Didier Deschamps cite his name in an interview on French television last year when asked about players who he was monitoring.“I was watching the programme without really paying attention and then I heard my name. He must have missed something. I don’t blame him for it,” said Koulibaly, who is now focused fully on helping the country of his roots.Runners-up in 2002, Senegal have never won the Africa Cup of Nations before.However, the presence of players such as Idrissa Gueye, Cheikhou Kouyate, Sadio Mane, Moussa Sow and Koulibaly in their squad means they are one of the favourites going into this year’s tournament in Gabon.In a Group B also containing much-fancied Algeria, Tunisia and Zimbabwe, Senegal should at least make the knockout rounds, something they failed to do in Equatorial Guinea two years ago.“Our common objective is to get past the first round,” admitted Koulibaly, who has shaken off an injury to make the squad, after an audience with President Macky Sall.Finishing ahead of Algeria would be no mean feat, and the sides will meet each other in a likely group decider in Franceville on January 23.The Fennecs of Algeria have a star-studded front line, but none of them will relish coming up against Koulibaly, a player revered at Napoli and described by club legend Diego Maradona as a “phenomenon”.After modest beginnings at Metz, the defender starred for Genk in Belgium, earning himself a move to Napoli in 2014 when Rafa Benitez was still in charge of the Italians.Koulibaly did not initially believe the Spaniard could possibly be interested in him, saying: “I thought it was a friend joking around.”But the move happened and the player’s stock has risen to such an extent that English Premier League leaders Chelsea have been linked with a mega bid of £50 million for his services.Nevertheless, his presence in Gabon allied with Napoli’s continuing involvement in the UEFA Champions League means any transfer will surely have to wait until the end of the season at least.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram Kalidou Koulibaly has admitted he waited and waited for the call to come from France before choosing to play for Senegal, and does not regret his decision for one second.The powerful 25-year-old centre-back was born in France and represented the country of his birth at under-20 level, but he accepted the call from coach Aliou Cisse in September 2015 to help the Lions of Teranga qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations.“I waited for a long time for a call-up for Les Bleus,” says the Napoli star. “I know there was a possibility at the time of my arrival at Napoli, but I have made my decision now and I don’t regret it.