"It's almost cold for us, with the wind," said Roy Krishna with a mischievous smile during an exclusive interview with FIFA.com amid bright Brazilian sunshine. "At home in Fiji it's a lot warmer."
Krishna and his team-mates qualified for a Men's Olympic Football Tournament for the first time after six failed attempts, making the South Pacific islanders' delight all the greater now.
"It's a dream come true for us," Krishna said. "We normally watch the Olympic Games on television and we didn't know they're that big. You only find that out when you experience it for yourself. The boys are really excited and happy. Nobody could sleep the night before we flew from Fiji to come here. We all had butterflies in our stomachs. We're very proud and it's an honour to be here."
However, their first outing on the big stage did not exactly go according to plan, as they were brushed aside 8-0 by Korea Republic. Nevertheless, the newcomers thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere in the stadium, with loud shouts of "Fiji, Fiji" regularly ringing from the stands at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador.
"Hearing the Brazilians cheer for our country was something very special," Krishna said. "The boys really cherished every second of the game. The atmosphere was just incredible. Coming here to this part of the world and seeing that some of the Brazilians had written 'Fiji' on themselves, that's something special to take back home and tell our friends and families about."
Learning on the job
Krishna regularly speaks about his colleagues and emphasises just how important the team is for him. Furthermore, he is aware that he has a special role to play. The 5'6" (1.70 metres) striker plays in New Zealand for Wellington Phoenix and is the only professional footballer in the Fiji squad. It is therefore up to him to pass on his experience and give his team-mates a basic knowledge of the professional game.
"I have to teach them what they can eat before games or after training," Krishna said. "I tell them about looking after your body and your training. Those are the three main priorities of becoming a professional. It's pretty hard for me to tell the boys what to do and what not to do. But they're quick learners and are very supportive. Whatever I say they pretty much listen to me. That’s a good sign. They respect me and that’s what I love about my job."
That includes wearing the captain's armband and leading the side out on the pitch. It is a role he is still growing into. "There is pressure but I always knew before coming here that I needed to step up my game and learn more about being a captain," Krishna said. "I talked to my coach and the captain of my club. They gave me some useful tips about how to captain the team and how to keep morale up."
Those pointers will help him prepare Fiji for their next game against none other than defending champions Mexico, who have Oribe Peralta leading the line once again. Peralta scored both goals in the 2012 final against Brazil.
"In the first match we sat very deep and allowed Korea to come at us," Krishna said. "In this game we'll just go for it. We have the capability to play direct football and keep the ball. We didn’t do that in the first match. We just had too much respect for Korea. This time we'll get forward more."