Nigerian representatives, Heartland FC said the request by Egyptian side, Ismaily for a change in the kick-off time for their second leg match coming up in Owerri on August 29, 2010, was selfish.
Media Officer, Cajetan Nkwopara said in Owerri on Wednesday that the 3.00pm kick-off time slated for the match was the proper and most convinient time for the game to hold.
Ismaily Manager, Mark Wotte had criticised the kick-off time saying they would seek the intervention of the Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) to have the game played at night because his players who are observing the Ramadan fast would burn out quickly if it is played under sun light.
The first leg encounter played at the Ismaily Stadium last Sunday took place by 9.30pm Egyptian time and was won 1-0 by the host.
However, Nkwopara said there are basic differencies between the Egypt’s nightlife and Nigeria’s which would make it impossible for the second leg in Owerri to hold at night.
“In Egypt it is possible for shops and businesses to open by 9.00pm and run till 4.00am but in Nigeria, this is difficult. Here people operate mostly in the day hours.
Apart from Lagos and Abuja, it is very difficilt to bring
people to the stadium at night in other Nigerian cities to watch matches and guanteeing security in such circumstance for this type of international match is a near impossibility, ” he said.
“In Nigeria, teams have a tradition of playing their matches in the early evenings between 3.00pm or 4.00pm to 6.00pm. We are in rainy season now that’s why we said let’s start 3.00pm so that rain would not disrupt the kick-off.
There have been cases where Nigerian Football Federation organised competitions are played by 2.00pm. Nigeria has both Christains and MoslemsÂ participating in such competitions.Â By their complaint, what Ismaily are suggesting is that CAF and FIFA must not schedule competitions during the Lenten and Ramadan periods.
We are not used to playing at night under flooredlight like the Egyptians do but we went ahead and honoured the game at Ismaily so their complain about kick-off time, permit me to say, is selfish.”
In a related development, Heartland have appealed to it’s numerous supporters to’stickÂ with the team’ irrespective of their present predicament.
The Nigeria side are currently occupying the bottom position in Group B of the 2010 CAF Champions League after three games and having also lost out in both the Nigerian Premier League and Federation Cups, Heartland are receiving media and public bashing over their performances this season.
But Media officer, Cajetan Nkwopara said Heartland could still riggle out of their present troubles and qualify from the group if the team’s spirit is not distroyed by the the current scums that are being heaped on the players, coaches and the management.
“We acknowledge we’re in a difficult position. This situation may have come from mistakes, hard luck or both but nothing was delibrate. We want to win and we’re fighting very hard but victory has not come. The door is not yet closed entirely for us and we are not giving up the fight till the last whistle. We need support and prayers not condemnations from our suppoters,” he pleaded.