Fernandez declines Kluivert for A-League Glory
The 29-year-old striker is eligible to play for the small Caribbean island nation where his parents were born and raised until they moved to the Netherlands in their late teens.
After an historic run past Montserrat and Cuba, Curacao were eliminated from 2018 qualifying on Tuesday after successive 1-0 defeats to 2014 World Cup finalists El Salvador, meaning they missed the CONCACAF group stage.
Barcelona great and ex-Netherlands assistant Kluivert took over as coach of Curacao in March, as part of a period of clear ambition, which included wins over Cuba in qualifying along with 2006 World Cup finalists Trinidad & Tobago.
Fernandez is one of many Dutch-born Eredivisie regulars who has opted to play for Curacao in recent times, along with former Swansea man Remy Agustien, Sheffield Wednesday defender Darryl Lachman and Vitesse keeper Eloy Room.
Wellington Phoenix midfielder Roly Bonevacia, who recommended the A-League to Fernandez, is another to opt to play for Curacao.
“Kluivert talked to me a few months ago and asked if I was interested in playing for the national team and I said ‘yes’,” Fernandez told FourFourTwo.
“At the time, we had a couple of important matches for my old team NAC, so I didn’t go over then and now Perth Glory came in, which was a good step.
“I said to him I’d rather focus on my time here, get settled and hopefully in the future I’ll play for the national team.”
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Fernandez, his partner and one-year-old daughter only arrived in Perth three weeks ago, with the former Feyenoord striker beginning training with his new team-mates a fortnight ago.
“It was important to get settled because I had to arrange a lot of stuff coming from Holland,” Fernandez said.
“I spoke with my agent and he said it’s better to settle here, get fit and start the season as well as possible for my new club.”
Kluivert confirmed his departure as head coach on Thursday following the qualifying exit, but said he wanted to stay on board as a consultant.
Despite Kluivert’s exit and declining previous invitations and remaining uncapped, Fernandez insisted he is serious about playing for Curacao.
Curacao, who also boast Southampton defender Cuco Martina, have ambitions to qualify for the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup for the first time since 1973.
“There’s a lot of guys born in Holland but whose parents are from the island,” he said. “Big players also, so that’s why we’re getting more popular to play for the country.
“It’s difficult to play for the Dutch team because there’s a lot of good players.
“It’s a good opportunity to play for the country where my mum and dad are from. There’s a lot of players now who are willing to play for them.”
Fernandez was hopeful of playing Round One for Glory despite admitting he’s not yet 100 per cent fit after his recent arrival.
The big forward has a key role to fill following the off-season exits of Andy Keogh and Jamie Maclaren who contributed 21 of Glory’s 45 goals last term.
“I don’t feel that kind of pressure, but I put pressure on myself,” Fernandez said.
“If I perform on the pitch and score goals I feel happy and if I don’t, I won’t be happy.”
Glory’s other major international signing, marquee Diego Castro, started training this week, but only running and conditioning away from the main group.
(Photo - Ben Somerford)