Al-Habsi hoping for a strong start to the 2016-17 campaign...Reading stopper Ali Al-Habsi can’t wait to take to the pitch for Saturday afternoon’s clash with Preston North End, in the Royals' Sky Bet Championship opener.
Al-Habsi was very upbeat about the 2016-17 season and feels the club must get off the best possible start following a promising pre-season schedule under new manager Jaap Stam.
“We are all really looking forward to the opening match,” admitted Ali. “It’s been a great pre-season we’ve had some successful games and we’re all ready now. We’ve got a great new manager, some good new players and are looking forward to it.”
“The new gaffer and staff have created a great mix of players,” he continued. “We’ve got a good mix of new players, experienced players and academy players here from the U21s and that showed last Friday against Bournemouth. Sometimes in the pre-season you do pick up some small injuries but everyone seems to look good, fresh and seem ready for it.
The Royals glovesman reflected on last season’s 2-1 defeat at the hands of the Lillywhites and feels Reading are a completely different prospect this time around.
“The Reading that played them last season will be a lot different to this year,” insisted the goalkeeper. “It’s the first game of the season and we want to get off to be best start we can in front of our fans. Everyone knows how long the season is, but we have to get a good start and we know it’s going to be a difficult game.
“We have to be confident going into it and show that we are a proper team."
The Omani international says he and the rest of the team are determined to get off to the best possible start on Saturday in front of the home support and are looking forward to playing a new system that the whole squad buy into.
"We really enjoy the style of play the manager has brought in, there are a lot of differences to the style that we played last season.
“This season everything starts from the back which means a lot of work for the defenders and the keepers,” continued the shot stopper. “Everything is going well and we’re getting used to the system. It’s always good to start the season right, last season we had some real mixed performances but we want to make sure this season we start as strong as we can.
“We look good and we’ve got a great new manager that has come in here. We’re happy and are looking forward to seeing the fans coming back to the stadium on Saturday and all pushing forward together.”