Lautoka-based Press Football Club have won the 2016 Fiji National Club Championship after defeating Suva’s Bureta Football Club 4-2 in a penalty shootout in the final at Govind Park, Ba,
Lautoka goalkeeper Viliame Tabucala was the hero of the day, saving penalties from Bureta’s Ivan Kumar and Tomasi Uculoa to earn Press FC their first ever NCC title.
Tabucala was humbled by the opportunity to participate in the tournament and pleased he was able to make his club proud.
“This is my first appearance in a major tournament and I thank God for giving me strength in saving two shots and not conceding a goal in the final,” he said.
“I was confident and I thank my club officials for having faith in me and encouraging me in taking the goalkeepers role.”
Press FC’s four goals were scored by Sekove Finau, Zibraaz Sahib, Jone Vonu Junior and Logesh Naidu.
Press FC coach Lambert Sarju was relieved with the result of the final and said that the Lautoka Football club had achieved a long-term goal.
“We hit the post on several occasions during the match,” he said.
“I told the boys that maybe luck was not on our side but keep focused and believe in themselves. In the last ten minutes of extra time we applied pressure but still could not get the opener.
“A lot of fatigue had come into the players. Many times Press has qualified for the NCC but never won the title.
“These players have done the job.”
Bureta coach Michael Mudaliar was disappointed with the loss but proud of the side for achieving their goal and reaching the final.
“The penalty shootout can go anyone’s way and their kickers were better,” he said.
“I would like to congratulate Press for the win and at the same time our boys did well.
“There were some injuries during the semi-final. We have a very young side with a few district reps.
“Our aim was to reach the final and we achieved that.”
In the semi-finals, Bureta upset defending champions 4R Electrical of Ba 2-0 while Press downed Blues FC of Nadi 2-0.
Press: Peni Finau, Sekove Finau, Zibraaz Sahib, Ilaitia Tuilau, Jone Vonu Junior, Iliesa Lino, Simon Junior, Logesh Naidu, Manueli Yawayawa, Viliame Tabucala.
Bureta: Ivan Kumar, Madhawan Gounder, Apete Koronivalu, Kamnis Prasad, Tomasi Uculoa, Poasa Bainivalu, Sairusi Nalauba, Waisake Navunigasau, Sahil Dave, Tevita Koroi, Vinit Nadan.