March 22, 2017
Wellington Phoenix striker Roy Krishna jetted into the country yesterday and straightaway joined the Vodafone Fiji national team camp at the Fiji FA Academy in Ba.
Krishna, 29, is the lone professional player in the Fijian squad and is expected to captain the side against the New Zealand All Whites in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier in Lautoka on Saturday before travelling to New Zealand for the away tie in Wellington three days later where Krishna will face a number of his Phoenix teammates.
The All Whites will feature a couple of Krishna’s club mates and the Siberia native from Labasa says mate-ship would be put on hold over the next seven days.
“It doesn’t matter that they are my teammates, to play for your country is a big honour,” Krishna told FourFourTwo.
“I’ll be a different man. I’ll be playing for my country, yes we are good mates but I’ve got a job to do.”
Oceania is in its third stage of qualifying for the 2018 Russia World Cup with New Zealand, Fiji and New Caledonia in one group, and, Tahiti, Solomon Islands and PNG in the other.
The teams which top each group will play in the Oceania final with the winner progressing to the intercontinental play-off against the fifth-best South American nation later in 2017.
In their previous two fixtures, New Zealand had a 2-0 win over New Caledonia in Auckland, but in the return leg a few days later could only manage a scoreless draw.
While Krishna respects the All Whites squad, he believes Fiji can claim crucial points in their upcoming home and away qualifiers.
“It’s our first game and for them it’s a do or die,” he said. “If they win then they’ve got a good chance of qualifying. We just have to do our job and I just can’t wait to play against a few of my mates.”
“The All Whites are a good side but we have beaten them previously so it’s going to be great game and we will be playing against some great players who play in the English Premier League.”
“They always have a good squad but on the pitch, its 11 vs 11 and hopefully we do well and get the three points.”
“We’ve got new coaching staff and they have a good plan for the future of Fijian football which is great,” he said
“I can see that we are in good hands. Now we just got to go out there and do a job, we’ve got a few older lads who are going around with the younger ones.”
Krishna also feels the Oceania region has untapped playing resources that are currently being ignored.
“We have the talent at home but scouts aren’t going to the pacific to have a look,” he said.
“But they should be going to do that since I’ve made my mark in the A-league. It’s not just Fiji but places like the Solomon Islands, Papa New Guinea and Samoa who also have hidden talent and hopefully scouts can go out there and look out for them.”
Meanwhile Coach Christophe Gamel will announce his final squad for the fixture tonight.
Fiji plays New Zealand at 1pm.
By Reginald Chandar