Bangkok beckons for Al Habsi

LATICS keeper Ali Al Habsi has been relishing the prospect of representing his native Oman in some huge World Cup qualifying fixtures of late.

And tonight another tough test awaits in Group B of the third round of the Asian qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup as Al Habsi and Oman take on Thailand in Bangkok.

Speaking exclusively to the Evening Post before jetting off for international duty last week, Al Habsi said: “It’s great for myself to get away with Oman, and play in massive World Cup qualifiers.

“Usually when I play for Oman, some of the other teams are not that strong, and when we step up a level that damages us a little bit.

“But we did our job in the last round, we won and we are through to the second stage where we’ll come up against Australia, Saudi Arabia and Thailand.

“It will be very tough for us but everything is possible and we have a good feeling in the camp.

“Two teams will go through, and although Australia are a very big team and Thailand are not a bad side, we are hopeful.

“Australia are currently the biggest team in Asia (qualifying group) along with Japan and South Korea, and I know many of their players from playing against them in the Premier League.

“We have played against them a few times since they joined the Asian Federation and come up with some fantastic performances.

“In football, if you give 100 per cent it’ll usually give you something back, and I hope we can do something.”

Al Habsi was in fine form as Oman drew 0-0 at home to Saudi Arabia last Friday night. The Latics stopper, who made his move to Wigan permanent in the summer after impressing on a season-long loan from Bolton Wanderers, produced a number of sharp saves to preserve his clean sheet.

Oman wrap up their World Cup qualification campaign with a trip to Australia on October 11.

Meanwhile, Scotland and their Latics defender Gary Caldwell face Lithuania tonight in their latest Euro 2012 group fixture.

The odds on qualification for the finals next year are now stacked against Craig Levein’s men, however, having drawn at home to the Czech Republic on Saturday.