Blues for Ali Al Habsi

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Departure from the DW was near enough 4.00pm as four Eavesway coaches headed to Coventry, earlier in the day a bad accident had occurred on the M6, long delays at junctions 19 & 20 in store.

However we eased off the motorway with The Ricoh arena in full view and onto the spacious car parks, the Wiganers had arrived with a good hour or so to kick-off.

Purple coated Coventry Ambassadors greeted us with pocket charts of the City re the Olympic Games, this was a dress rehearsal for bigger events to come.

After my obsessive, nope mandatory walk around the stadium, I always have a peek when visiting a new ground, always have always will I ventured to where and how to get in.

The Jimmy Hill statue was impressive and although the club shop was open, it was like sale time in Primark so I gave that a miss.

The main stand seemed to be for VIPs only, the seats behind both goals were closed (until it was used as an overspill after) so it was around to turnstile 12 & 13 to pick up our tickets, chaos ensued.

Firstly finding the guy with the tickets was curious at best, stewards shrugged shoulders and pointed in the general direction of a lamppost, however what looked like a ticket tout was gleefully issuing freebies tickets to anyone with a Wiggin accent or a pie in their hand.

Because this was an Olympic event everyone had to put their personal belongings into a clear plastic bags airport style then queue for a body search,  fair enough but the throng of people got larger and it was no fun as a shower descended onto patient football folk.

Once declared as no risk to society thro’ the turnstiles to be greeted by more luminous jackets asking to empty the bags before going any further.

Mission accomplished I went in search of a programme to be greeted by cheerie  people asking which free paper flag did I want, exit stage right for a Chiken Balti Pie at three quid and a pint of Carlsberg at £3.30 (I think)

Both pie & lager filled a void and the concourse was lively as Omani lads & lasses mixed with Wiganers to have photos taken and swop chants, it could be well confusing at the next game at The DW if any of them are remembered.

Off into the stand, found a great seat next to the aisle and watched a “big strong athletic” Senegal squad warm up while in comparison the Oman team looked like schoolkids.

Also doing a few sprints was ref for the night Howard Webb, who I thought had a good game but was insistence on producing loads of yellow cards for both teams.

Oman supporters seemed to outnumber their counterparts by I reckoned ten to one and a carnival atmosphere ensued around the sky blue seats.

First minute Senegal swung in a cross and with the Oman keeper flapping and his defence like the proverbial rabbits in headlights they conceded a headed goal.

Oman if nothing else for the rest of the first half, was spirited and with their No14 bossing things the second was promising for them.

It turned out exactly that, the white shirts of Senegal sat back and the reds of Oman missed numerous gilt edge chances to get level, you thought if they got one they would go onto win it.

Alas for Ali it was not to be as Senegal struck their second with just a few minutes left to claim the last footballing berth at the 2012 Olympics.

Also a mention for for Senegals right back No3, who looked a gifted player with an abundance of pace, memo to organisers a squad sheet would have been an idea.

The scoreboard flashed up the player’s names etc  along with a picture that had been taken from what looked like their passport photos !

The Cov fans were friendly as were both sets of Oman & Senegal guys and gals, a good night and under two hours back to The DW, well worth it and thanks to the Oman FA who paid for it all.

Olympic Qualifier

Oman 0-2 Senegal at the City of Coventry Stadium.

Goals, Ibrahima Balde 2 & Abdoulaye Sane 87

Attendance 11,611

More pictures here …..    http://www.thisnorthernsoul.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=8608.0

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