Martinez labels Al-Habsi 'the perfect goalkeeper'

The Latics boss has defended his player after a recent mistake cost almost cost his side points, insisting that he would not swap him for another shot-stopper in the league
Wigan boss Roberto Martinez has launched a strong defence of his goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi following the player’s high-profile error in Saturday's Premier League victory over Reading.

The Oman international failed to keep out a deflected strike from Hal-Robson Kanu in the weekend's fixture, mistakenly turning the looping effort under his own crossbar. However, his manager's faith in him remains staunch, and Martinez insists that he would not swap his player for any other goalkeeper.

"I wouldn't take any other keeper to replace Ali and that’s how much we rate him," the Spaniard told reporters.

"He's the perfect goalkeeper for ourselves. He's someone who can fit in with the way we want to play. He's someone who's still developing and in every aspect is the perfect goalkeeper for Wigan Athletic.

"This won't affect his ­confidence. If anything, he's a more focused character now. He will want to be perfect, he will get better.
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"I'm quite happy for him to make a mistake – for every mistake, there are 20 good saves. I'll take that ratio any time."

Martinez was keen to point towards the profile that Al-Habsi enjoys in his home country as evidence of his ability to deal with pressure, and believes that his player could well go on to become one of the world’s finest goalkeepers.

"I know that, at international level, he is already an icon," he added. "We've been to Oman and we know what pressure he plays under and it's incredible to see him developing and growing and getting better.

"I still feel he's got another step to get to and once he gets there, he's a keeper who can compete in any sort of challenge to win a title, the Champions League, a World Cup.

"I hope he's got that time to carry on developing at Wigan Athletic and become the player I know he can be."