Heartland FC will embark on their quest for the first victory of the season as they face Sunshine Stars at the Ondo Sports Complex in Akure on Saturday, October 14th, 2023, in one of the fixtures of Matchday Three in the Nigeria Premier Football League.
The Naze Millionaires secured a 2-2 draw in their home game against Lobi Stars, followed by a narrow 1-0 defeat to Plateau United in Jos in the matches they have played this season. With their history at the same venue a few seasons ago, Heartland FC enters Akure with high aspirations.
Heartland FC returned to Owerri from Jos on Tuesday, having made a brief stopover in Otukpo, Benue State on Monday. They conducted two training sessions on Wednesday to prepare for the upcoming match. The team journeyed to Akure on Thursday and will have their mandatory training session at the Ondo Sports Complex on Friday, following the official schedule.
The Owerri-based team’s preparations for this weekend’s league game have been smooth and free of obstacles, and they are poised to translate this into success in Akure. The support from the Imo State Government, led by Distinguished Senator Hope Uzodinma and the Commissioner for Youth Sports and Social Development, Honourable Emeka Okoronkwo, has been exceptionally substantial.
Speaking to the Heartland FC Media, the head coach, Christian Obi, encouraged his players to take calculated risks for the benefit of the team as they face Sunshine Stars in Akure. Obi expressed some regrets about missed opportunities in their previous match against Plateau United, stating that with a little extra effort, they could have left Jos with at least a point.
Obi urged his players to address the shortcomings observed in the opening two games and to give their all with the determination to return to Owerri with at least a point, even if securing maximum points proves elusive.
“I must say that the Plateau United team showed greater determination than our own. Their loss to Shooting Stars in Ibadan motivated them to perform at their best. They were quicker to the ball than our players, giving them an advantage in the game,” Obi explained to the club’s Media.
“European players are known to take risks to achieve their goal of scoring. Patrick Nwogbaga came close to scoring for us, and with a bit more effort, he would have hit the target.
“We’ve identified some of our issues from our last game, and we’re actively working on rectifying these areas. With proper adjustments and correction of our mistakes, we can certainly secure at least a point.”
The former Flying Eagles goalkeeper for the 1983 FIFA U20 World Cup in Mexico confirmed that Fabian Omaka and Rolland Koffi are presently sidelined with injuries but assured that they have capable replacements ready to step in.
“While we have a few injuries to contend with, the crucial point is that our injured players are on the path to recovery. Fabian Omaka is currently in the recovery process and under medication, as is Rolland Koffi. Nevertheless, we have other capable players at our disposal. Frank Erikan joined the team and made a valuable contribution; his performance was commendable,” Obi concluded.”
Last Five Matches Between Heartland FC and Sunshine Stars
2-7-2022 Heartland 1-0 Sunshine Stars
2-3-2022 Sunshine Stars 3-1 Heartland
4-7-2021 Heartland 0-1 Sunshine Stars
21-2-2021 Sunshine Stars 1-1 Heartland
2-2-2020 Heartland 1-0 Sunshine Stars