Imo indigenes hail Heartland FC
Abakaliki - Imo indigenes residing in Abakaliki, Ebonyi on Monday rejoiced with defending champions Heartland FC of Owerri, on its 2-1 victory over the Lobi Stars FC of Makurdi, to retain the 2012 Federation Cup.
Heartland was winning the competition for the third time, having won it earlier in 1988 as the then Iwuanyanwu Nationale FC.
With the victory, the club would represent the country in the Confederation Cup, next season.
The indigenes remarked that the feat had placed the club among the leading clubs in the country.
Chief Victor Anyanwu, a former chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Ebonyi, said the feat showed that local coaches could match their foreign counterparts, under the right atmosphere.
“Local coaches can as well attain the heights of their foreign counterparts, if adequately encouraged.
“The club hired Coach Ndubisi Nduka during the season when its erstwhile Dutch coach, Lodewijk de Kruif, abandoned it after a dispute with the management.
“Nduka met a club in crisis, but deployed his technical and managerial acumen to salvage the situation.
“The club started recording impressive results in the premier league and capped it with the defence of the Federation Cup, which was also won last season by de Kruif,” Anyanwu said.
Chief Okechukwu Onuoha, a businessman and sports promoter, said that with the right atmosphere, players could be motivated to give their best to their clubs.
“The state government and well meaning individuals intervened in the crisis which rocked the club earlier in the season and set the tone for the achievement of the Federation Cup feat.
“The players were adequately motivated with the settlement of their outstanding entitlements which made them to become more dedicated to achieving success for the club.
“The club’s management addressed all lingering issues which resulted in the crisis and all hands came on deck to achieve success,” he said.
Mrs Philomena Chilaka, a civil servant, urged relevant stakeholders not to politicise Heartland’s victory, but should ensure the remodelling of the team to enhance its performance on the international scene next season.
“Politicians should not use the club’s feat to score cheap political points, but they should evolve measures which will enable the team to continue to improve on its performance in the next season, especially in the Confederation Cup.
Chilaka also urged the state government to handsomely reward the players for their efforts, while the the club’s management should endeavour to keep the team together. (NAN)