ALI Al Habsi has spoken of his immense pride at the prospect of returning to Oman with his Wigan Athletic team-mates later this month.
Latics will jet out to Al Habsi’s homeland immediately after Saturday’s trip to Bolton, taking advantage of having no fixture the following weekend to get in some warm-weather training.
During their stay, Latics will play a friendly against the Oman national side – who face a crucial World Cup qualifier against Thailand the following week – leaving Al Habsi in two minds as to which side he’ll be turning out for!
“I am so happy and proud about the prospect of going home with Wigan Athletic,” he told the Evening Post.
“It will be the first time a team from England has visited Oman, which will be something special for me and for my country.
“I am the only player from the region to be playing in the Premier League, and that means Wigan Athletic are a very popular team in Oman.
“It will be slightly strange when Wigan play against Oman - I might have to have a chat with the gaffer because I wouldn’t want to play against either of my teams!
“But I’m sure the team will like everything about my country - the people, the weather, the facilities - and hopefully it will help us when we return to the Premier League.
“It’s probably the best time to go to Oman, because the temperature is around 20-25 degrees.
“With the way the weather has been over over the past week or so, it will be nice to feel a bit of sun on our backs and get down to some good training.”
The Oman Football Association (OFA) have revealed their delight at welcoming Wigan to their country.
“We are all proud of Ali and his achievements in performing so well in the English Premier League — he is a true ambassador for our country,” said OFA General Secretary Hazzaa al Saadi.
“We worked hard to deliver a good option for Wigan Athletic to come to Oman, and it reflects well on the OFA and the country of Oman that they have chosen to visit.”
The trip has the full backing of Roberto Martinez, who believes the work his squad will be doing will prove invaluable in the relegation run-in.
“This is a key time of the year for us as we prepare for the remainder of the season,” the Wigan boss acknowledged.
“Our trip to Oman will offer us a great chance to prepare well and in good surroundings.
“Ali is, of course, one of our key players, and he is very happy for us to be heading to his homeland.
“We are looking forward to meeting the Omani people, of whom we’ve heard so much.”
Kick-off for the friendly clash on Friday week is to be confirmed, although it’s already been announced that admission will be free.