Ali set for long journey home

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LATICS’ keeper Ali Al Habsi is set for a long and probably miserable journey home from Down Under after his Oman team were defeated 3-0 yesterday by Australia in their latest FIFA World Cup qualifier.

Now with just a point from their goalless draw against Saudi Arabia representing Oman’s tally at the halfway stage of the third round of Asian qualifying, the Gulf Sultanate’s hopes of appearing at the World Cup finals for the first time are fading fast.

Despite yesterday’s result, however, Al Habsi will at least have pride in the knowledge that he was asked to skipper his country for the first time at the ANZ Stadium, something Latics boss Roberto Martinez was delighted about as he took note from back home.

Martinez said: “It’s a great honour to be captain of your country.

“It’s the moment of your career so of course as a club we’re delighted for him.

“It will improve Wigan Athletic and improve Ali individually, so we’re all really proud.”

Not to be outdone, Latics midfielder Emmerson Boyce also skippered his country, Barbados, at the weekend as they lost 2-0 at home to Guyana in their latest World Cup qualifying clash.

Meanwhile, Martinez confirmed yesterday that Championship side Doncaster Rovers have expressed a desire to take goalkeeper Chris Kirkland on loan.

However, an agreement appears far from being reached between Latics and the Yorkshire outfit just yet.

Martinez said: “Chris is a number one for us, as is Ali Al Habsi.

“I’m very happy with all the goalkeepers we have at the club at present, and that includes Mike Pollitt and Lee Nicholls too.

“You are going to get situations where other clubs are interested, and Doncaster have shown interest.

“We are far away from reaching an agreement though.

“I would never be against Chris playing some competitive first-team football in the short term, but it has to be the right deal for all the parties concerned.

“We need to make sure that we look after all the angles surrounding any possible move.

“At the moment we’re not close to agreeing anything at all.

“There has been contact but we just need to make sure all parties are happy with any potential loan deal.”