Heartland FC will go into Saturday’s 2023-24 Nigeria Premier Football League Matchday 10 tie with Enyimba in another exciting Oriental derby with the resolve and willpower to end their winless streak since the start of the season.
There have been notable changes to the technical crew and the management of Heartland FC done recently to ensure the Naze Millionaires right the wrong of their poor start to the season.
The acquisition of two times league champions with Plateau United (2017) and Akwa United (2021), Kennedy Boboye as Technical Adviser has dominated discussions in the media and among the fans. He replaced erstwhile coach, Christian Obi whose reign could not produce a win from the opening nine games. It is on record that the former Goalkeeper oversaw the Owerri side to an unbeaten stint in the Nigeria National League (NNL) last season but found it difficult to muster a breakthrough in the topflight this term.
The club has also removed its Team Manager, Victor Ezuruike who was redeployed to the club’s feeder team. Former Assistant Team Manager, Osuorji Linus Maduabuchi was promoted to acting Team Manager. Charles Uzor replaced Willie Udube as club’s chief coach while Chidi Ike who was formerly with the Heartland FC Feeder team got a promotion to serve in the Heartland FC main team technical crew.
Heartland FC have won this fixture nine times out of the 25 times it has been played previously with Enyimba winning seven times and the remaining nine ending in a draw. In fact the Owerri side are on a 10 games unbeaten streak to the People’s Elephant in the league. The Aba side last defeated them in the league eight years ago on 17th June, 2015 in Aba. Both teams played out a goalless draw in Aba in their last confrontations on June 26th, 2022, two seasons ago.
Judging by current form, Enyimba should hold the ace in this fixture but the two teams’ previous matches showed current form plays only a little role in the tie. Heartland FC beat Enyimba 2-0 in Aba on January 15th, 2020 when they were struggling and they got four points off the reigning league champions two seasons ago when many expected the former CAF Champions League winners to overrun their neighbours from Owerri.
Speaking with Heartland FC Media, Kennedy Boboye said he was aware of the onerous task before them and he has called on the club’s fans and supporters to come to the stadium to celebrate the club’s first victory of the season.
Boboye disclosed his immediate target is to ensure that Heartland FC are out of the relegation zone.
“It is a derby game that we can’t take away anything from. The most important thing is that with our current situation, only a win will help our cause. Everybody’s hand is on deck to ensure we get the three points on Saturday,” Boboye said.
“We need to move out of the position we are now. I want our fans to come out enmasse on Saturday. I am assuring them that they will come and celebrate their first win of the season.
“I want to thank the fans for their patience with the team even when the team is not doing well. It is football and we are lucky to have our crisis now. We will overcome it.’
Enyimba won their ninth league title last season but their league title defence has been far from perfect. They have lost all but one of their four away games. They have won all their four home games but not convincingly.
Heartland FC have Chisom Chiaha, Andrew Abalogu, Nnaemeka Anyanwu, Fabian Omaka, Ezekiel Bassey, Austin Osayande, Frank Erikan among others to call on to perform while Enyimba have Daniel Daga, Erugo Adiele, Ini Edem, Chijioke Mbaoma, Pascal Eze, Somairi Alalibo, Uwanna Asuquo and others performing at their optimum and always ready to pounce.
*Heartland vs Enyimba Head to Head:*
26-6-2022 Enyimba 0-0 Heartland
26-2-22 Heartland 1-0 Enyimba
30-5-2021 Enyimba 0-0 Heartland
13-1-2021 Heartland 2-0 Enyimba
15-1-2020 Enyimba 0-2 Heartland
Source/Heartland FC Media