Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I'm vindicated by Heartland’s exit – Emeteole

Erstwhile Heartland head coach, Kelechi Emeteole, has described the team’s ouster in the ongoing CAF Champions League as a vindication of the unfair manner he was deposed by the club management. The former national Beach Soccer coach who guided the Naze Millionaires to last year’s final and second place finish in the league speaks on his ordeal with the club in this exclusive interview with Excerpts:

What is your reaction to the ouster of Heartland in the CAF Champions League?
It is sad that they are out in the group stage of the championship. I feel disappointed as a stakeholder, because we formed the team when it was Spartans. We are the pioneers, the way (Segun) Odegbami is to Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC), Christian Chukwu to Rangers that is the way I am to Heartland and that is the area I fell very bad. Everybody knows what led to my leaving the team. I feel vindicated because I knew without good motivation, team spirit and when the condition is not alright that it also rub off on the performance of the players and that is what I wanted for my players and the team, but who am I? I don’t have the powers.

The state government is set to probe the team's poor run and what led to their failure. Do you think it is a positive step?
Well, my advice to the government is that they should learn from mistakes of the past. Obviously, I thought they would have learned from what led to our failure to win the cup last year and try to avoid them but all my advice as someone who wears the shoe fell on deaf ears. Nobody seems to listen to my advice. I advised that they should be careful with what they want to do in order not to cause more damage.

Sorry to take you back, what actually led to your sack?
I was trying to make sure that my boys are all right because without good motivation, the players will not give their best but the management thought I was controlling them and inciting the players against them.

Would you blame the players for your ordeal?
I will blame the system not the players because they did their best given the condition and what is available. These are the same players that took us to the final last year and second place finish in the league two seasons ago notwithstanding poor motivation.  The best thing we would have done is to avoid the mistake that made us lose in the final.

What is the mistake you are talking about?
The mistake is poor organisation and bad system. We were better side to TP Mazembe but they were more organised and that is why we lost.

Would you say that Samson Siasia who took over the team has failed?
I don’t have much to say about Siasia. Siasia is a worker, he has come to do his job but my surprise is that he came and never cared to find out what was wrong with us or what lead to our sack and even he has a colleague in the national team who was his teammate in Super Eagles whom he would have consulted to know the situation at Heartland but he selfishly came and he got what he wanted.

Do you still want to manage any club in Nigeria?
Currently, I am looking for a team that is up to my taste. I don't want a team that in future we run into problem. I want a team that will be ready to give me a free hand and less interference from the management. So I am still weighing my options.

Is there any offer?
Well many have come my way but I am yet to get a team that is up to my standard. I don't want to rush to anything so, I am taking my time.

What is the way forward for Heartland?
The way forward is proper organisation, honesty of purpose, people saying the truth and doing the right thing.

By Sampson Eze

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