Ali looks ahead to international actionAli Al-Habsi will be the first of our players in international action during this bout of fixtures when Oman face New Zealand in Muscat on Thursday.
That fixture may only be a friendly, but it will serve as a useful warm-up for Oman's home tie against Turkmenistan on Tuesday in their 2018 World Cup qualification pool. His nation currently sit top of Group D in the second qualification round in the Asian confederation, and are in prime position to reach round three and being one step closer to Russia 2018.
The experienced keeper knows the importance of a win away from home and wants to keep the momentum going his side have built up on the international stage. “It’s been a fantastic start to our World Cup qualifying and we are very happy until now,” said Al-Habsi.
“We have a big game coming up against Turkmenistan which we have to be ready for. It’s a big challenge for us, we don’t have professional players; most of our team are local players in Oman so I’m very happy with my team, and they are doing very well until now.”
Iran sit three points behind Oman in Group D with a game in hand and Al-Habsi knows that Oman must be wary of the threat Iran pose. However he is proud of the way his team have performed so far, and proud of his continued responsibility of wearing the captain’s armband.
There are plenty of honorary Royals in Oman who are following their captain's career in Berkshire, and he paid tribute to those fans that send him well-wishes.
“We’re top of the group, but have good competition from Iran they’re a great team and one of the best in Asia,” he continued.
“I’m very proud, this biggest thing for me is to be the captain of my national team, I’m the only player in the squad that plays in Europe, which is a big pressure, especially from everyone back home.
“The pressure is not just with the national team but also with Reading because they all follow the Royals and their results now I am playing for them, but the pressure is something I enjoy.
“It’s fantastic to have fans back at home in Oman supporting Reading and giving nice words on Twitter and Instagram. It is good for me and good for the club to get their support.”