Wigan Athletic today became the first Premier League team to play a fixture in Oman. Latics had been in Oman for a spot of mid season warm weather training and were delighted to take part in this ground breaking game that could have massive future benefits for all concerned.
The game was delayed by half an hour from its 2-30pm (GMT) kick off due to congestion outside the ground. Roberto Martinez decided to give a first ever start to Lee Nicholls between the sticks whilst regular cistodian Omani international Al Al-Habsi started for his country. Martinez claimed that all his current first team squad would be involved throughout the game that was eventually played out in front of approximately 7,000 fans at the Seeb Stadium, the home of Seeb FC.
Conditions inside the stadium, red hot temperatures tempered by a hot breeze and a bobbly pitch, meant that Latics struggled to play their usual exapansive passing game. Goalscoring chances were at an absolute premium and the best one came from the hosts who ensured that Nicholls had to produce a ‘world class’ save to keep the scores locked at o-o after 45 minutes.
Al-Habsi, having kept a clean sheet for the hosts during the first half took his place between the Latics sticks for the second period. There were also six other changes which were Ben Watson, Steve Gohouri, Hendy Thomas and three, yes THREE strikers in the shape of Hugo Rodallega, Callum McManaman and Conor Sammon!
Shortly after keeping Oman in the game Al-Habsi conceded after 50 minutes when Sammon’s bobbling shot from just six yards out. On the whole though the second half also became a victim of the elements but Oman were unlucky to hit the bar in the closing stages. Sammon was also unlucky not to double Latics’ advantage with almost the last kick of the game.
Wigan Athletic will shortly return home and Martinez will be looking forward to the clash with Aston Villa next weekend, possibly with a huge personal goal in mind. Should Latics beat Villa it will be the first time that Martinez will have won three games on the bounce.
Heady days indeed!
WIGAN ATHLETIC, Lee Nicholls, (Al-Habsi 45), Ronnie Stam, Adrian Lopez, Gary Caldwell, (Ben Watson 45), Maynor Figueroa, Albert Crusat, James McArthur, (Conor Sammon 45), Mohamed Diame, (Hugo Rodallega 45), Victor Moses,(Steve Gohouri 45), Franco Di Santo, (Hendry Thonas 45), Jordi Gomez, (Callum McManaman 45). Sub not used, Jean Beausejour.
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