Wellington Phoenix striker Roy Krishna is looking forward to taking on New Zealand in front of a home crowd on Saturday after an overwhelming welcome to Fiji from friends, family and fans.
“I knew straight away it was going to be pretty awesome. I felt like I was already home when I was on the plane. I put it on Instagram and there were already so many likes but yeah, it’s good to be home,” he said.
The Fiji football star was swarmed by young fans at Jasper Williams High School today, and the passion and support displayed by the students at the all-girls high school left Krishna more determined than ever to make his country proud.
“This was the biggest welcome I’ve ever got and it was really good to see that they’ve been following soccer really close. They will give motivation for the boys to perform tomorrow.”
Arriving in Lautoka only days before their clash, Krishna has been working hard to slot into the team and learn the side’s new approach to the game from French coach Christophe Gamel.
Although the late transition hasn’t been easy for Krishna, the 29-year-old is pleased with the support he has received from Gamel and the improvement he’s witnessed in the team during trainings.
“It’s tough but you’ve got to do your job. We’ve been in contact for the last month, talking about what kind of style I play and what I’m comfortable to play and he’s helped me a lot,” he said.
“There’s a big difference this time around. The boys are more focused. Last time we were always out of position. The coach has been working on what we do after we lose the ball and focusing on the players, not just the ball. There’s a big improvement.”
Although he will have to come up against fellow Phoenix teammates in tomorrow’s match, playing club teammates in national team football has never phased Krishna, and he is looking forward to giving New Zealand a good run for their money.
“It’s not the Phoenix versus me, it’s New Zealand versus Fiji, and when I wear my Fiji jumper I’m a different person,” he said.
“Off-field we are good mates but on the match day it’s Fiji versus New Zealand, and I’m a Fijian and I’m proud to wear my jumper.”
Krishna secured the 2-0 win against New Zealand in the 2008 Nations Cup at Churchill Park the last time the two teams met on Fiji soil, and the striker is eager to repeat history tomorrow afternoon.
“We’ve got the home advantage and a positive result here will put them under pressure. We are well prepared for tomorrow.”
Fiji will play New Zealand in the first match of the their two-legged clash for Group A in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ – OFC Stage 3 qualifiers at 1pm (local time) at Churchill Park in Lautoka on 25 March.