Fiji football fans looking forward to Roy Krishna's return
The Wellington Phoenix football team will tour Fiji in June, playing two matches against the national team.
The Fijian football community is already counting down until the return home of star striker Roy Krishna.
The 27 year old will make a rare appearance on home soil in June after it was announced his Wellington Phoenix team will tour Fiji as part of their pre-season preparations.
Vinnie Wylie reports.
The Phoenix will play two games against the Fijian national team in Suva and Ba, while their academy side will play twice against the Fiji under-23 team, who are preparing for the Pacific Games in Port Moresby. Roy Krishna is the first Fijian to play in the A-League and has scored six goals in 12 games for the Wellington club this season. The 27 year old says he is looking forward to showing his teammates the Fijian culture.
ROY KRISHNA: First I was like, "yes, now I'm going home", so it's an honour to go back home and take my teammates and show them what Fiji's about. I don't know who will be the captain for Fiji but it will be a great honour playing against these guys and it should be amazing.
Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick says playing against an international team will be a unique challenge and says he's even willing to let Krishna put his country first.
ERNIE MERRICK: I think he should play for the Fijian national team. I think he should represent his country and if he scores a few goals against us - the more he scores the happier I'll be so i think it will be good for him to play for the national team, Fiji.
The President of the Fiji Football Association, Rajesh Patel, says they appreciate the gesture as it will be the first time in two years Krishna has been able to play for his country.
RAJESH PATEL: It will be good for him to come back to the home crowd and it will also increase the fan base of Wellington Phoenix - there are a lot of Fijian communities and Fijian people living in New Zealand. It's a win-win situation for both of us and at the same times exposes our young talents for Phoenix to see if they'd like to find another Roy Krisha in Fiji.
Ernie Merrick was in Samoa last month scouting players at the Oceania Under 17 Championship and agrees that there is plenty of undiscovered talent in the Pacific region.
ERNIE MERRICK: Very much so and when I was in Australia I worked with the Under 17 [and] Under 20 Australian teams when we were in the Oceania region. I saw then a lot of talent and I see the talent coming through and it's just a shame that they're visa players if they come to the A-League, and maybe the FFA down the track will allow them come to the Phoenix and not be visa players but there's certainly a lot of talent there and I'm sure we will find another Roy Krishna.
The trip is part of a commercial partnership between the Phoenix, Fiji Football Association and Fiji Airways, who pitched the idea at the end of last year. The Phoenix teams will travel on the airline's inaugural Wellington to Nadi direct flight on June 25 to play the exhibition matches.
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