Wigan goalkeeper looking forward to Olympic qualifier

By Steve Carpenter 16/04 Updated: 16/04 16:13

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WIGAN goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi will be Oman’s number one fan when they take on Senegal in the final qualification play-off match for the men’s Olympic Football competition.

The 30-year-old keeper is closing in on a century of caps for his country and is desperate to fulfil his dream of representing Oman at London 2012.

Oman reached the final Olympic qualification play-off on Monday (April 23, kick-off 7.45), at the Ricoh Arena, which will be known as the City of Coventry Stadium throughout the Games, after coming through three preliminary stages.

Al-Habsi expressed his delight at his team’s progress immediately after the result on Twitter and praised the impact of former Lyon, Rangers and Cameroon boss Le Guen

"I’m so happy because the Oman vs Senegal game will be in Coventry," said Al-Habsi, who is the only player from the Middle East plying his trade in the Premier League.

"I’ll be the first one in the stands supporting the lads!

"I followed the Uzbekistan and Syria matches. In the first game we were leading until the 93rd minute before Syria got the draw and I watched the second half of the Uzbekistan game at home.

"I was at training during the first half and when I had finished I had a lot of messages telling me we were in front.

"Uzbekistan only needed a draw to progress but we did fantastically well and it was a brilliant game. Thanks to Paul Le Guen he’s a special man.

"Of course we have a good chance but coming up against a good African side like Senegal will be very different. They will be very strong and have some big players."

Another man whose contribution could be telling is skipper Hussain Al Hadhri.

The 21-year-old is already a regular in the full national side and has netted eight times in Oman’s Olympic qualifying campaign.

"It is up to the manager if I play but it would be a dream to play in the Olympics," said Al Hadhri.

"It would be a big thing for our country if we could get to the Olympics because it is something we have never done before so this young team could make history.

"I am going to see the team a couple of days before the game in Coventry to talk to them and wish them good luck.

"Football is huge in Oman. Everybody in Oman follows Wigan and it was great for the team to visit the country and experience that."

Tickets for Monday's qualifier are available by visiting theticketfactory.com/footballtournamentqualification or by telephoning 0844 338 800 and from www.ticketmaster.co.uk or by telephoning 0844 277 0700.

Tickets are still available for the London 2012 Olympic Football Tournament and go back on sale in late April or early May at tickets.london2012.com

Hospitality packages are available for the qualification match and Olympic matches this summer. For more information email loft@ccfc.co.uk.

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