By ASHTOSH SINGH
Former Ba team coach and player Junior Bukalidi showed he still has a lot of firepower in him as he guided his Bula Boys team to the finals of the New Zealand Ethnic Soccer Festival held at Gower Park in Hamilton over the weekend.
Bukalidi who is in contract with Papakura Fc in NZ dazzled the crowd with his craft footwork and classy touches as well as neat finishing as he scored twice in their Semi-Final 3-1 win over Salesh Kumar led Indian All Star.
Unfortunately Bukalidi could not help his side retain the trophy in the final as they lost 2nil to NZ Tavua.
The Bula Boys with the services of former district and national reps such as Sumeet Shankaran, Ravinesh Narayan, Nicholas Lawrence, Rajnesh Sharma, Luke Vidovi, Atnesh Prasad, Jone Salauneune and Bukalidi looked firm favorites to retain the trophy they won last year but indiscipline cost the side as former Ba and Nadi team striker Jone Salauneune got sent off for a reckless challenge on a Tavua defender in the 2nd minute of the game.
The NZ Tavua outfit with the services of Aeron Singh, Sandeep Singh and Vishal Lal along with Waitakere City midfielder Imran Shah took advantage of an extra man scoring two goals midway in the 2nd half and defended gallantly to keep Bukalidi out of the score sheet to win their 1st Ethnic Tournament shield.
Meanwhile, the tournament featured 16 teams in the top division whereby 8 Fijian teams represented the Fiji community in NZ.