Goalkeeper previews Cup visit from League 1 visitors WalsallRoyals stopper Ali Al-Habsi isn’t expecting anything but a tough afternoon when League 1 side Walsall visit Madejski Stadium on Saturday.
The Saddlers, third in League 1, have lost just twice in their last 18 fixtures – and as well as knocking Brentford out of the FA Cup in round three, Brighton and Nottingham Forest were also been vanquished by the Midlands club in the Capital One Cup.
“In the FA Cup, any team can beat any team,” Ali explained ahead of the game. “For us, we have to be ready and we have to be focused for this game. Teams from a lower division give everything when they come here – it’s only one game so you have to give everything, and then anything can happen.
“For us, we are playing at home – we have had a good run of games at home. We want our fans to be there and supporting us as usual – they have been fantastic with the team this year. They have been behind the team and giving great support.
“We can see that every game – even if we go 1-0 or 2-0 down, the fans were patient and they gave us more push and more power to give even more in the game. We hope to give them something back this Saturday – we need to start well and score first, and we will have a good day.
“It will be a hard game. Walsall have already beaten three teams from the Championship – we have to be ready and focused in the game. They have had a good run in the cup, and they have been near the top of their table in League 1. We expect a big game and a big challenge from them.”
At our third round replay against Huddersfield, one lucky young supporter was gifted Ali’s match-worn shirt at the final whistle – to match the one he already had!
And while the team are taking it one step at a time, Ali hopes that the Royals can book a place in Sunday evening’s fifth-round draw and a place amongst the last 16 in the competition – which would certainly get the excitement building for players and supporters alike!
The stopper continued: “It would be great to have a cup run. It has been great for the team last year, and especially for the fans – they love to go to Wembley. We have a great chance now – we have a game at home, and we have to make it something special.
“You never know what can happen – we will focus on this game, and then we could be in the last 16. Hopefully we can make something special happen this year too.”