Selby: Al Habsi’s big-game experience will be crucial for Oman

Selby: Al Habsi’s big-game experience will be crucial for Oman
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Published January 7th, 2015 - 15:04 GMT via

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Ali Al Habsi
Ali Al Habsi

Oman captain and No 1 goalkeeper Ali al Habsi's big-game experience and guidance will be crucial to the team's campaign in the Asian Cup, according to Jim Selby, the Oman Football Association's (OFA) technical director.

Speaking to Muscat Daily on Tuesday from Canberra, Selby said he expected Habsi to be ready for the opener against South Korea at the Canberra Stadium on January 10.

Habsi, who arrived in Canberra on Monday, hopes to overcome jet lag after a long flight and was restricted to light jogging at the team's training session at McKellar Park on Tuesday.

"Anyone who's just got off the plane after a 25-26 hour flight [is going to be tired]. The team's medical staff worked out an effective recovery programme for him after he arrived at the Australian Institute of Sport," Selby said.

The 33 year old Habsi, a veteran goalkeeper of 92 internationals, featured in Wigan's third-round 0-1 FA Cup loss to Bolton last Saturday.

"Habsi's played at the highest level. So it's important he continues to play at the highest level as he comes closer to the tournament. He's been with the national team for so many years now and his presence definitely is a boost for the team,” said Selby, who is a native of Canberra.

Coached by Paul Le Guen, the Red Warriors aim to stand out in a difficult Group A that features the Socceroos, South Korea and Kuwait.

South Korea arrives

South Korea went through its first training session in Canberra at the Deakin Stadium after arriving on Tuesday.

While South Korea and the Socceroos are the favoured teams from Group A to qualify for the quarterfinals, South Korean midfielder Nam Tae-Hee said the side was only concerned about a strong beginning against Oman.

"There's no easy opponent in the Asian Cup," Tae-Hee told Australian media on Tuesday.

"It's the second time I am facing Oman after playing them in the Olympic qualifiers. There are a lot of fast players in the Oman team. I know the Australian team is probably the toughest opponent in the group stage, but for now, we'll just focus on our first game against Oman."

Tae-Hee, who plays club football for Lekhiwiya in Qatar, is not fazed by the hot conditions in Canberra.

"Physically, I'm struggling a little bit with the time lag and the weather, but I'll get used to it," Tae-Hee said.

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