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Ali: “The most important thing is the desire of the players”

25 October 2016

Goalie reflects on cup defeat at the Emirates

Reading goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi – who captained the Royals at the Emirates in the fourth round of the EFL Cup – was proud of what he saw from the team, despite exiting the competition at the hands of the Gunners.

A double for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain earned the hosts a 2-0 win and passage to the quarter-final, as he finished a couple of chances ruthlessly.  But the Omani stopper felt that a young Reading team had a lot of reasons to hold their heads high.

“We are very proud for the team and for the young lads who came here to the Emirates, where you will always expect a very good game,” said Ali.

“I think we showed good stuff during the 90 minutes; at those important moments during the game, you have to concentrate because small mistakes can cost you a lot – and that has happened.  But we gave everything.

“We came here to enjoy the game and give everything.  It’s a cup game and the most important thing is the desire of the players – they showed themselves and what we can do this season.  This is one game of our season and now we have to move on – we have a big, big game for us against Nottingham Forest on Saturday.”

Ali made a handful of top stops to keep Reading in the game – one of which was an outstanding stop to deny Arsenal’s French forward on his return from injury…

“When you come here you will expect a busy game… but the header from Olivier Giroud was the best save!” Ali continued.  “I stayed on the line and it was similar to one I made against Wolves.

“I’m happy for my performance and I’m improving every day.  I’m happy for the team and I’m very proud today to play another game as captain and lead the team here.

“We just need to improve and stay high in the league.  This is the most important thing for us now.  We’re confident – we play our football and play in the way that the gaffer wants, and we have shown it here.

“We need to know that the game on Saturday won’t be the same kind of atmosphere as Arsenal, but these are the games that you have to show yourself, be mentally prepared, stay focussed… and I think we can do something good.”

And he paid tribute to the travelling hoards who came in their numbers to get behind the team – and called on the fans to keep it up in the forthcoming games in the Sky Bet Championship.

He continued: “We’d like to thank the more than 5,000 fans that came here from Reading who came here.  It’s fantastic to see the fans behind us – we need them every single game now at home and away.

“You can see that we are improving now and results will come.  More big games are coming soon and we need to stay at the top end of the table, improve week after week, and we can do it.  Everyone that has played in the league and the cup has proved that they want to be in the first 11 every time.

“So thank you for the fantastic support today – we need them every game now.”

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