FITNESS was the factor that led to a dramatic change in Labasa soccer team's performance in the second round of the National Football League (NFL) matches.
After a losing start to Nadi (1-2) and Suva (0-3), the Babasiga Lions fought back to win their matches over Nadroga (4-3) and Lautoka (2-0) over the weekend.
Association interim president Dip Narayan hailed the youngsters in the team for rising up to the occasion to put up a stunning performance in their last two matches.
He thanked coach Arthur Simmons for his tireless work in putting together a good team following the unavailability of key players.
Pita Bolaitoga joined the Papua New Guinea-based Hekari United club while Ilaitia Tuilau has jetted off to Vanuatu to play for Amicale.
Youngsters Taione Kerevanua and Misaele Draunibaka were nursing injuries while Kavaia Rawaqa was tied with family commitments.
"The coach did a lot of work on fitness. In the first round, some players that featured in the matches did not do much training and the result was the losses," Narayan said.
"But the whole of last week the players focused on getting their fitness back and that proved the difference in the second round."
Labasa, which is placed on the fourth spot in the Fiji Sun/GP Batteries NFL, is on a bye this weekend.
Narayan said this would give the team chance to prepare well for its upcoming matches.
"We would just like to remind our fans to remain loyal to the team. We have seen some of them only support when we win and always criticise when we lose. This doesn't help the players or the administrators as they are disheartened by those negative comments."
Meanwhile, the Labasa FA annual general meeting will be held at the end of this month.
Saturday (January 26) Prince Charles Park, Nadi- 11.30am Nadi U21-Ba U21, 1.30pm Suva-Rewa, 3.30 Nadi-Ba; Sunday: Lawaqa Park, Sigatoka - 11.30am Nadroga U21-Lautoka U21, 1.30pm Navua-Tavua, 3.30 Nadroga-Lautoka; Monday: Churchill Park, Lautoka - 3pm Ba-Suva