By Onochie Anibeze
HEARTLAND players will take a day or two to overcome the pain they took from the hard knocks they got from T.P. Mzembe of Congo players. They go into the final leg very uncertain of what the future holds for them going by the resilience of the TP Mazembe side.
But they(Heartland) are a side with a good away record. Tough as it would appear, Kelechi Emetoele and Ben Iroha expressed confidence that they can still win the CAF Champions League. Emetoele confessed that they played one of the most difficult games since their campaign in the champions league.
Before the game, there was a heavy rainfall in Owerri. The rain abated slightly during the game and that appeared to be to the advantage of the visitors who were harder, tougher and quicker on the ball.
The visitors stunned the capacity home crowd in the 24th minute with the opening goal scored by Mputa Mabi who capitalised on the mis-kick of an Heartland defender.
One minute later, Nigerian youth international, King Osanga equalised for the homers. The first period ended one goal apiece.
On resumption, the two teams put in everything they knew into the game and it was the visitors who exhibited more grit and resilience. They marked very well and never allowed Heartland space to play their game. Their counter attack was blistering. It was a game that lacked finesse yet action-packed and full of tension.
The ding-dong continued until the 78th minute when Uchenna Agba in his characteristic manner hit a terrific shot that beat the TP Mazembe goalkeeper for the winning goal. And the stadium stood in unison to salute Agbaâ€™s goal.
Heartland will be missing the services of one of their dependable playmakers, Emmanuel Olowu who bagged a second yellow card in Owerri. But assistant Coach Ben Iroha said they will make up for Olowuâ€™s absence in the second leg.
Soon after the match, Coach Kelechi Emetoele assured that Heartland were capable of winning the champions league, saying, â€œWe have been in a similar situation and we came out of it. I think it will not be different when we travel to Congo.â€