The entertaining Labasa side are favourites to win the Vodafone Fiji FACT title this year as they play host to the last major football tournament for 2020.
Labasa had its first taste of the Fiji FACT victory at Subrail Park in Labasa in 1992 when they beat Nadroga 1-0 in the final. They also featured in the first final of the tournament when it started in 1991 when they played Ba.
However, it has been five years since the Babasiga Lions lifted the Fiji FACT trophy. The last they won the tournament in 2015 beating Rewa 2-0 in the final at Prince Charles Park in Nadi. They made it into final in 2018 but were defeated by host Rewa 3-5 in a penalty shootout.
Under the guidance of Coach Roneel Lal and association president Raiyaz Khan, the Babasiga Lions have been consistent in their performance over the past few years. Despite failing to defend their Battle of the Giants title the Babasiqa Lions came out to win the 2020 Courts Inter District Championship beating Lautoka 2-1 in the final at ANZ Stadium in Suva last month.
They have proved they are a team to beat this year after their four consecutive wins in the last round of the Vodafone Premier League.
In their last outing at home they defeated Ba 2-1 to finish fifth on the Vodafone Premier League standing this season.
Labasa made it to eight Fiji FACT finals and won four titles.
Ardent fans will be expecting a win, and there will be no shortage of support for them in Labasa.
The Lions’ fast-paced style of football will be crucial for them in the Group stage, where they will go up against Ba, Rewa and Nasinu.
The side is fortified with proficient players like goalkeeper Akuila Mataisuva, defenders Taniela Waqa, Antonio Tuivuna, Iliesa Lino, Ilisoni Lolaivalu, Lekima Gonerau,Sitiveni Rakai, Akeimi Ralulu, Abhishek Deo, midfielders Ilisoni Logavou, Melvin Mani, Vikrant Chandra and strikers Ratu Apenisa Anare, Taniela Rakariva and Siotama Kubu.
The Galaxy Hotel & Apartments/ Powerwise Electrical (NZ) sponsored Labasa side will open their campaign against Rewa on Sunday November 22 at the ANZ Stadium. They then take on Nasinu on Wednesday November 25 at 6.30pm at Subrail Park in Labasa. The host will play their final pool match against Ba on Thursday November 26 at 6pm.