Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Fitness Is Ba's Focus - but Hat-Trick a Bonus

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Fitness Is Ba's Focus - but Hat-Trick a Bonus

Article excerpt

Byline: Stuart Rayner

DEMBA Ba took more satisfaction from feeling back to his best after Ramadan than breaking his goalscoring duck for Newcastle United in spectacular fashion at the weekend. The Senegalese striker failed to find the net in his first five Magpies appearances. Having ended that sequence with a brilliant turn and shot against Blackburn Rovers, he proceeded to score his first Premier League hat-trick, in a 3-1 win. Afterwards Ba insisted his physical condition was more important than having something to show for it on the scoresheet. "As a striker it is always important to score the first goal for your club, the sooner the better," said the player signed from West Ham United in the summer. "It didn't play on my mind though, I was more focused on getting my sharpness back in this game. "Even if I had not scored a hat-trick I would still have been happy as I felt sharp. That was my goal. My team-mates were really happy for me and all signed the matchball." Ba, whose last treble came for Hoffenheim against Stuttgart two years ago, was hampered at the start of the season by his religion. As a Muslim, Ba was expected to fast in August, prohibited from eating and drinking during daylight hours. "I trained every day," he said. "I did everything asked of me and I have been doing this (fasting) ever since I was a young boy. "Sometimes it doesn't affect you at all, sometimes you start feeling a bit tired. But it is not something new to me - I have been doing this for a long time. I am used to it and it is something very important to me. My faith is where I get my confidence and energy from. I will not quit doing this because I can't. "I was sharp during that time although maybe not quite as sharp as I would like to have been." West Ham's top-scorer last season, Ba proved the most high-profile striker Newcastle signed during a transfer window in which the club's fans were promised a talisman capable of filling the iconic No. …

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