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16.09.2004 Sports News

Pantsil apologises for penalty

By Reuters

JERUSALEM, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Maccabi Tel Aviv defender John Pantsil has apologised to supporters after giving away a penalty that ruined a battling performance by the Israeli club in Wednesday's Champions League clash with Bayern Munich. Maccabi were making their debut in the competition when they hosted the German giants in the Group C clash, which they lost 1-0 to a Roy Makaay penalty in the 64th minute.

'As a professional I should never have made a mistake like that,' said the Ghanaian defender after conceding the penalty with a rash foul on Ze Roberto.

'I owe an apology to the fans and I promise that we will not disgrace them and the country (Israel) again. I don't know what to say, we lost because of me,' Pantsil was quoted as saying on the Maariv website.

With no newspapers appearing in Israel on Thursday due to the Jewish New Year holiday, the only reactions to the disappointing losses were published on the papers' websites.

'The appearance of an Israeli team in the Champions League is not an exhibition but a part of the graduation and improvement process of Israeli soccer to that which we watch on TV (from abroad),' Maariv columnist Ron Amikam wrote.

The first Champions League match played on Israeli soil at the National Stadium in Tel Aviv was watched by 25,000 fans who gave up their New Year's Eve meal to witness the occasion.

Maccabi and Bayern had asked to reschedule the match to take into account religious sensitivities but European soccer's governing body UEFA refused to move it to a different date.

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