Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Heartland Seeks To End 17-yr Wait For Title

Globacom Premier League side, Heartland Football Club, is hoping that it would be fortunate next season to finish in number one position and end 17 years without a league title in Nigeria.
The Naze Millionaires remains the most consistent side in the Globacom Premier League in the past two seasons after finishing in second place behind Kano Pillars and Bayelsa United in the 2007/2008 and 2008/2009 seasons respectively.
Head coach of the club, Kelechi Emeteole, is optimistic that the long wait for a domestic trophy should be over by the end of this season, as he has the personnel to march on and win the Premier League.
Heartland FC has never won the Premier League and since its name was changed from Iwuanyanwu Nationale, it is yet to win any trophy.
But Emeteole’s confidence in his side is boosted by the fact that his club won the pre-season tournament, the Glo Super Four, recently held at the Ilorin Township Stadium.
The former Nigeria international knows that the race for the title next season would be keenly contested and acknowledges that his side would have to put in lots of hard work to end its more than a decade wait for a first title.
“Based on the strength of the team that I saw in the Super Four, I believe that we can end that long wait for a title. In the past two seasons, we have come close to winning the Premier League but may be we were not lucky enough. Now I believe that we have learnt from our mistakes in the seasons that we have failed to win the league.
“Again, the Super Four showed that we can do better than we have done in the seasons that we finished second behind the champions. But we will still need to work hard because other clubs want to win it as well as we want to do,” Emeteole said.
One of the club’s influential defenders, Thankgod Ike, also buttressed his coach’s statement saying that Heartland FC cannot afford to fail in winning a silverware in the 2009/2010 campaign.
The robot-like central defender fears that anything short of winning a trophy whether in the Premier League or the Federation Cup may not be accepted by fans of the Owerri club.
But Ike is hoping that Heartland FC’s run in this year’s edition of the CAF Champions League culminates in winning the African club competition.
“We cannot fail our fans in the coming season because we have done well in the past season. Before last season, we finished second and last season we finished second again. For the coming season, we don’t want to finish second but first because our fans are watching. Winning a trophy whether in the FA Cup (Federation Cup) or in the Premier League is important. But thank God we are still in the (CAF) Champions League and I hope that we will win it to reduce the pressure on us to win a trophy,” he said.
In the late 1980s, Heartland FC then known as Iwuanyanwu Nationale was the toast of the fans when it won the league four consecutive times in 1987, 1988, 1989 and 1990.
The club won its last league title in 1993. But before then the club won the double in 1988 when it defeated Flash Flamingoes in the final of the FA Cup by 3-0, which was the only time it won the cup.

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