Krishna becoming the real deal at Wellington

Roy Krishna is confident enough to say that, one-third of the way into his second full season as a fulltime, professional footballer, he now feels like the real deal.


AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - DECEMBER 05: Roy Krishna of the Wellington Phoenix celebrates after Rolieny Bonevacia ohQ5@rE1[118fIr^PY , Source: Getty Images

The Wellington Phoenix striker doesn't doubt for a moment that there is still plenty to learn, but said he felt he had earned his place in the A-League and was playing with a lot more confidence than when he first broke into the side.

That was in the second half of the 2013-2014 season, as a 26-year-old injury replacement for Paul Ifill at Phoenix. He played nine games and was rewarded for the promise he had shown with a new, two-year contract.

Last season, Krishna became a regular in the team and scored nine goals in 25 games. So far this season he has scored four in nine and will try to add to that when Wellington plays Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.

"Even when I scored nine goals last season, I still had a lot to learn," Krishna said. "Especially getting used to the way Ernie (Merrick, the Phoenix coach) wants to play. But this season I feel more comfortable already.

"Ernie knows what I'm capable of and the way I play and now I'm getting a lot of opportunities up front, especially with Roly (Bonevacia) and 'Mikey' (McGlinchey) helping me so much. It's great when I see them giving me through balls, because they're such quality players.

"I feel like a serious, professional footballer now. I believe I'm doing all the right things for my game. I'm fitter and stronger, so my body is handling the physical side of the game very well now. I've got to give credit to the coaches and trainers and my teammates for encouraging me in that area."

Now 28, Krishna said he has grown into his role in the side, relying less on the established players and shouldering more responsibility himself.

"I always knew a lot about football, but as a professional there was still so much more to learn and I improved a lot last season," he said. "I learned more last season than I did for many years before that, especially about my role in the front third.

"When to press, when not to, how to put yourself in the best position. I'm really enjoying being a professional footballer."

Wellington moved back into the top six with a stunning result last week, beating reigning champions Melbourne Victory 2-0 at QBE Stadium in Auckland.

Victory coach Kevin Muscat was highly critical of the pitch and he had every right to be, it was awful, but it was the same for both teams and Krishna said Phoenix took a huge amount of positives out of the win.

They had just come off a two-game trip to Sydney in which they lost 2-1 to Western Sydney Wanderers and drawn 0-0 with Sydney FC and had approached the game against Victory as a critically important one.

"We didn't get the win, but a draw was still a good result and it put us in a better frame of mind for the game against Victory. The boys were really pumped up to play Victory and we got a very important win. Two clean sheets in a row. You can see we're on the right track."

Roar, in their last three games, have drawn 1-1 with Melbourne City and 1-1 with Newcastle Jets and lost 2-1 to Wanderers. They played well enough to potentially win all three games, but their execution was lacking.

Krishna said the Phoenix players know that if they give Roar attackers like Thomas Broich and Jamie Maclaren room in which to move, they risk paying a big price.

"They're a very exciting team and they play good football," he said. "I love the way they play. It will be an open game, I think, but we've still got to defend well, like we have done recently. We've got to play our own game and we believe that if we do that well, we can win."

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4 min read
Published 11 December 2015 at 12:18pm
By Greg Prichard