The captain and goalkeeping legend of Oman Ali al Habsi has said that the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar will make the entire Gulf region proud and inspire a new generation of players to follow in his footsteps.
Habsi, one of the Arab world's most notable footballing exports, played in the English Premier League, facing German giants Bayern Munich, and lifting the English FA Cup trophy in the sparkling career.
"We're proud as people from the Gulf that the 2022 FIFA World Cup will be in Qatar. Qatar is our country too, as we are all part of the Gulf. The World Cup being here will benefit everyone in the Arab region. What I saw when they showed me the plans just makes me even more proud and I'm confident that it'll be the best World Cup of all time," Habsi said after visiting the offices of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) along with Oman coach Paul Le Guen.
The goalkeeper who helped Wigan Athletic win the FA Cup in 2013 with some magnificent saves added:"Of course it gives us motivation to have the World Cup in this region; it gives the young players positive encouragement to be part of the World Cup. When you host something like the World Cup, it gives you the experience but also pushes you to prepare for it."
Oman coach Paul Le Guen, who previously coached at Rennes, Lyon and Rangers, as well as taking the Cameroon team to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, added that the tournament in Qatar would assist development in the entire region:
"The league in Oman has become professional, but it has to become more so, and I hope that academies can be created and football can be developed in the right way. I think that it is important to have a World Cup here because more and more football is important here, so it is great for the region, and a big chance of course."
Having missed playing in the 1994 World Cup in USA at the last minute, Le Guen said the tournament represented a dream opportunity for the Arab world, and added that Oman would also be looking to benefit from teams visiting their country in the coming years."I was so close to participating in a World Cup we lost that during extra time. To play a World Cup is a dream, and it is such a big competition that you can achieve so many things. I hope that young players from Oman will go to Qatar to be inspired by the matches. But I also think that teams could do training camps in Oman before the competition, because you are one hour from Doha, you have good beach and hotels, so it is a nice place to prepare the World Cup."
The former PSG coach considered that the French league had become more attractive since the Qatari investment in the club:"It was a turning point for the French league. The league was going down a bit, but since then it is a different league. Now it is very well seen all over the world. So we have to see that as a chance."
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