Football | SPORTS

Krishna Finally Footing It

Roy Krishna cannot stop smiling even though, for the first time in years, the Fijian striker wasn’t able to go home for Christmas. The Phoenix trained on Boxing Day, which
29 Dec 2014 12:51
Krishna Finally Footing It

Roy Krishna cannot stop smiling even though, for the first time in years, the Fijian striker wasn’t able to go home for Christmas.

The Phoenix trained on Boxing Day, which precluded the traditional trip back to Fiji, but that was a small price to pay after the year he’s had.

“It’s hard not to see family and friends but I have a job to do here,” Krishna said. “I’m enjoying every bit of it.”

He should be. Krishna has scored four goals and had three assists in his last seven matches, making him one of the form strikers in the A-League. This time last year, he was still in no-man’s land for a footballer of his abilities.

Long recognised as ‘too good’ for the ASB Premiership, he had unsuccessfully trialed with the Phoenix (2008) and North Queensland Fury (2009) and couldn’t take up a trial offer with Derby County (2013) because of concerns it could jeopardise his claim for permanent residency in New Zealand.

But an unfortunate injury to Paul Ifill opened the door for Krishna, who was signed in the first week of January. After struggling to find his feet last season – he scored one goal in nine games (only three starts) – he has been a different player this year.

“I’m loving it. It’s been great,” said Krishna, who is just the third Pacific Islander to play in the A-League, after Solomon Islanders Henry Fa’arodo and Benjamin Totori.

“When you are not starting games, it’s hard to get a combination with the first XI and know what your role is but, the more you get to know your role, the better.”

Phoenix captain Andrew Durante has noticed the difference in the 27-year-old.

“We knew he had talent – that’s why Ernie [Merrick] signed him,” Durante said. “But the chances he had last year, he didn’t really take them. This year, he’s taking them and has been outstanding.”

The turning point came in round five. After barely figuring in the first four matches, Krishna was sent on in the 70th minute and changed the game.

“In that game, I created the goal [for Nathan Burns] and it gave me a lot of confidence,” said Krishna, whose burst of pace and pinpoint cross set up Burns for the winner.

“All the boys came and hugged me, and I felt like I belonged. Before, I didn’t feel like I was involved, not helping them to win.”

Krishna has started every game since, contributing either a goal or assist in each match, including a 25-yard strike against the Jets and a crucial equaliser at Eden Park against the Mariners.

“He’s got a bit more belief in himself,” Durante said. “At training, he was always doing really well – that’s why Ernie kept using him off the bench [last season] – but he didn’t really take those opportunities like he is this year. He’s getting in really good positions and looks like he will score in every game.”

It’s something Krishna hopes continues today against strugglers Western Sydney. A Phoenix win would open up a five-point gap on fifth-placed Sydney and 10 points on sixth-placed Melbourne City.

“It’s a great environment to be in,” Krishna said. “Everyone is buzzing and we are getting more confident after every game. Before, nobody knew me, and now, after the goal against Newcastle, people were saying hi on the street [and] in the gym.”

Krishna is likely to be more prominent in the next few weeks, as the prolific Burns misses games against Adelaide (December 31) and Brisbane (January 4) due to Asian Cup duties with Australia.

“I won’t say I am the No 1 striker and [Nathan] will be hard to replace but let’s see.

“There’s also a chance for someone else to step in.”

Subscribe to E-Edition
pacific island top up
Air Nuigini
Subscribe-to-Newspaper
Fiji Sun Instagram
Fiji Plus
Subscribe-to-Newspaper
error: