Al Habsi: My best time in English Championship
Ali Al Habsi
A nomination for the English Championship player of the month award for October preceded by the player of the month award by an online poll. Twice included in Championship team of the month.
Three clean sheets in three victories on a trot for his club, Reading, in the Championship games. Definitely, Oman's star footballer Ali al Habsi is enjoying one of the best periods in recent times in the English League.
But the 34 year old goalkeeper is in no mood to rest on his laurels as he promises to raise his game further for Reading, which has risen to fourth in the 24-team standings.
In an exclusive chat with Muscat Daily on Sunday, Habsi said, “I am very happy with my recent performances. I have been nominated as Championship player of the month, won the player of month award and most importantly, I have helped my club earn full points.
“To win three in a row with three clean sheets, it has been very satisfying. Big credit to our coach Jaap Stam, my teammates and the coaching staff.”
‘Positive results helps me to do better’
The Royals stopper said, “The recent months have been my best time in the Championship. And the positive results give me the strength to do better and helps me improve.
“I am quite comfortable with the new system brought in by Stam. It is different but it has worked well. The best thing is we don't put any pressure on ourselves. We try to take each game as it comes and the teamwork under Stam has been terrific.”
Recent reports have suggested that there may be possible interest among the English Premier League teams for Habsi during the January transfer window, but the Omani remained non-committal on any such move.
“For me, the most important thing is to keep on doing my best for the club I am playing. I know that I can still do better and all I am focused is to keep on improving,” he said.
“I would not like to comment on the January transfer window. It is my dream to lead Reading to the Premier League. It is a goal we all are working. The Championship is still a long way. We still have 30 game remaining.”
In a recent interview, Stam had said that it was difficult to ward off interest in goalkeeper Habsi during the January transfer window, owing to his recent impressive form.
Habsi is in his second season at the Madejski Stadium and has been praised by Stam for his ability to adapt to a new style of play.
Misses out on award to Fulham’s Aluko
On Friday, Habsi missed out on the Championship player of the month award for October to Fulham's Sone Aluko. Newcastle United's Dwight Gayle and Brighton's Lewis Dunk were also nominated.
Habsi has been outstanding last month between the sticks for the club, pulling off a number of fine saves.
Not only has he enjoyed three consecutive clean-sheets, he also put in a superb display against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, making a number of top stops on the night in the English Football League (EFL) Cup.
There have been a couple of spectacular moments for the Omani international recently, among which was a save from point blank range to deny Arsenal's French international Olivier Giroud in the EFL Cup.
“I had quite a few good saves. Of course, the Giroud shot was one, but I had another save against Rotherham’s Richard Wood and then a double save against Nottingham Forest at home, said Habsi.
‘I have still three-four years left in me’
Habsi acknowledged that age may not on his side for interest among the leading Premier League teams but was confident that he still had three to four years left at the top.
“This December I will be 35 but the way I am playing, I have no doubt that I can continue for another three to four years,” he said.
The Royals goalie declined to comment on the recent racist chants aimed at him during the game against Arsenal.
“The club has acted on it and I know the team, the fans have all supported me strongly.”
It has been learnt that the club has already punished the erring fans.
Habsi was subject to racial abuse by few minority of Royals fans during its 0-2 defeat away at Arsenal. However, he was given a strong support by the home fans during the next game against Forest at Madejski Stadium.
Earlier last month, Habsi won the SB Nation-The Tilehurst End online October Player of the month award after he had won three successive man of the match awards.