Goalkeeper pleased with another victoryBy helping Reading to a 1-0 victory against Charlton Athletic on Saturday, Royals stopper Ali Al-Habsi has now kept successive clean-sheets either side of the international break.
The Omani goalkeeper kept Middlesbrough at bay a fortnight ago, before stopping the Addicks from bursting the net; Nick Blackman scored the game’s only goal for the Royals. And Ali lauded the role of the team in front of him for making that feat easier.
“We’re all happy to get six points from the last two games,” said Al-Habsi. “It’s a great spirit from the team. When you have a clean sheet, it is a clean sheet from the whole team – it’s not just my job. The way that we play and defend is going very well.
“In this league, home games are massive if you want to continue to be in the top. We’ve done that in the last two games and we have a big week now with Rotherham and Fulham. We need to continue and stay at the top.
“This game against Charlton was difficult because everyone had been on the international break and playing games and travelling – it is not easy. The game was difficult but we dealt with it very well and scored that goal.
“The players were patient, they passed the ball, and they knew that we would have the chance. We can’t ask any more from Nick Blackman – he has been on fire this season and is scoring goals. In this league, you need to have a striker like him.”
The stopper came back into the team for the Boro game in the absence of the injured Jonathan Bond – he then went away to make two international appearances in World Cup qualifying for Oman, and has come back into the starting XI on his return to Reading.
He has been pleased to have had an opportunity to come into the squad, and to prove himself in those games.
“It is not easy to go away and play two games – the weather there is so hot and humid,” he explained. “All the time when you play for your national team there is pressure, and when you come here to Reading you want to keep yourself in the team because the competition here is really strong – this is a great thing for the team.
“I have had the chance to play two games now and I did my job right. This is the way we must be if we want to continue – for myself and other players, any chance we have to come into the team, we have to prove to the manager and the fans that you are ready to push all the way to the end of the season.”
The Addicks weren’t able to cause too many problems to Ali – Johann Gudmundsson’s shot shortly before the break was about as much as the Omani had to deal with, thanks to the sterling work of the team in front of him.
He admitted that sometimes those are the types of games that can be a goalkeeper’s biggest challenge, but was pleased to come through it with the clean sheet intact.
Ali explained: “In these kinds of games you have to be concentrated – we have a fantastic defence and they have been fantastic in all of the games this season. We didn’t concede a lot of chances but sometimes as a goalkeeper it is harder than being in the game.
“When you play games like this, sometimes you only have one shot on the target and you have to be ready. Especially now when the weather is getting colder and colder!
“But I think we are in the right way and we have to be calm, work hard on the training ground game after game, and it will come. We have a fantastic group of players with a mix of experience, and I think it will take us further on.
“We also have great supporters. More and more supporters come every game and that’s what we want.”