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A-League 2018/19 top scorer lured to the Indian Super League

The VYBK Stadium: Roy Krishna’s new home at ATK FC

The captain of the Fijian national soccer team and the mainstay in the Wellington Phoenix frontline has confirmed his departure from the club.

Roy Krishna, who finished last season’s A-League as the top scorer with 19 league goals to his name, has agreed a lucrative one-year deal to represent ATK FC in the Indian Super League (ISL). The 31-year-old has spent the last five years of his career playing for the Phoenix, racking up an impressive 51 goals in 122 competitive appearances.

The 2018/19 campaign was his best season to date, not only finishing with the A-League’s Golden Boot but also earning the Johnny Warren Medal, having been voted the league’s most outstanding performer. Krishna almost single-handedly helped the Phoenix qualify for last year’s A-League finals – a remarkable achievement given that the team were nowhere near considered A-League contenders this time last year. His displays saw him pip the likes of Isaias and Neil Kilkenny to the post to win the league’s top accolade. However, the writing appeared to be on the wall for the Phoenix who were keen to agree a new deal with Krishna in the close season. The 31-year-old said that his decision would “be good for everyone” in his family, hinting then at a potentially lucrative deal elsewhere.

The ISL represents a big chance for Krishna to enhance his profile

It was therefore of little surprise when ATK FC of the big-money ISL announced his signing. Krishna said that playing for ATK “presents a great new opportunity” and a chance to take part in a “new” and emerging league. The Kolkata-based outfit are two-time winners of the ISL since the league’s inception back in 2014. Their home stadium is also the largest in the country, with the 85,000-seater VYBK Stadium creating a cacophony of noise on matchdays.

The profile of the ISL has risen considerably in the last few years, particularly given that players in their prime are starting to have a crack at the league as opposed to the veterans that sought their final pay-day in its infancy. Many compare the ISL to North America’s Major League Soccer (MLS) which initially started out as a playground for veteran stars nearing retirement. However, all the leading sportsbooks – including the brand-new sports betting platforms such as FoxBet – now cover every kick of MLS action and it won’t be long before it’s the same in India.

As for ATK FC, they seem like a match made in heaven for Krishna. He revealed within his press statement that more than a century ago, his “forefathers left Kolkata” to try and seek “new opportunities in Fiji”. Krishna looks upon his switch to ATK as a way of coming “full circle”, returning to where it all began. ATK’s head coach, Antonio Lopez Habas waxed lyrical about the capture of Krishna, praising his “leadership skills”, his “variety” and his “confidence” in front of goal.

Krishna is the latest in a long line of marquee signings at ATK

Krishna will be looking to follow in the goalscoring footsteps of former ATK star, Iain Hume

Krishna will be looking to follow in the goalscoring footsteps of former ATK star, Iain Hume

ATK has been privileged to have some well-established football stars don the ATK jersey in recent seasons. Canadian international striker Iain Hume remains the club’s leading scorer, while Spaniard Luis Garcia, Portuguese forward Helder Postiga and Irish striker Robbie Keane have all been marquee players during the club’s short history.

The 2019 ISL campaign does not start until August, so Krishna will have plenty of time to rest and recuperate after a long A-League campaign, ready to try and help ATK make it a hat-trick of ISL titles in 2020.

What mess does Krishna leave behind in Wellington? It does appear the Phoenix will be a much-changed side for the 2019/20 campaign. Coach Mark Rudan has also left for pastures new, citing a new challenge with the A-League’s newest side in the division, Western United. A host of Phoenix players have opted to follow Rudan to Western United too, leaving some gaping holes for Wellington to fill. Given that they will almost certainly be a team in transition next season, a bid for back-to-back A-League finals already seems out of the question.

Photo credits:

  • Photo (The VYBK Stadium: Roy Krishna’s new home at ATK FC) by Arindam Ghosh – Rana – Dimpy – lovedimpy
  • Photo by RitosomRoy1234

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avatarThis post was written by a Staff Writer for Ultimate A-League

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