The Owerri side will have another opportunity to make their supporters happy after a dull game against Jigawa Stars last Thursday
Heartland will play host to Lobi Stars of Makurdi on Sunday at the Dan Anyiam Stadium, a week after they crashed out of the Caf Confederations Cup in Brazzaville to AC Leopards on the away goals rule.
The Naze Millionaires looked ragged and fagged out after their weekend tie at Dolise, Congo with a very disappointing 1-0 display against rock bottom Jigawa Golden Stars.
The northern club that has not found its feet almost ran away with a point but for a last gasp goal from Chinedu Efugh, the captain of the Owerri-based club, who took it upon himself to run in to the vital area to try his luck after his strikers had failed severally.
The ugly incident at the end of the match against Jigawa Stars, where the fans openly called for the sack of Ndubuisi Nduka and a recall of Dutchman Lodewikj de Kruif whom they alleged was fired for a supposed half –coach, is still fresh. Coupled with the lethargic display last Thursday, this Week 27 tie should a beauty to behold if the home team rise to the occasion.
Nduka steps out to make his second appearance as the chief coach of the club against Lobi Stars.
The Makurdi side have always proven to be a tough customer to Heartland. Two seasons ago, Heartland defeated Lobi by 1-0 with Evans Ogenyi, the former technical adviser of Lobi, crying blue murder.
But last season with John Zaki at the helm, Lobi picked a point albeit on a neutral ground in Aba after Heartland was banished to the Enyimba International Stadium.
It ended goalless to the consternation of the club’s supporters who had thronged the stadium hoping for a big win.
This time around both clubs have reasons to approach this tie with all the seriousness it requires.
Both of their fortunes on the league table this season have not been too impressive with Heartland the more disappointing of the two. Presently, Heartland is placed 14th on the log with 31 points from 21 games but have four matches in hand. Lobi Stars are six places above the Naze Millionaires with 35 points from 25 matches.
A win for Heartland on Sunday coupled with other important wins in their outstanding matches will no doubt boost their chances of another continental ticket next season.
Assistant coach Ramson Madu apologised to fans for his club’s low key win over Jigawa Golden Stars and assured Goal.com that an improved squad and match would be seen at the Dan Anyiam Stadium on Sunday.
"We will be ready for Lobi Stars. Fatigue affected us against Jigawa Golden Stars and that was why we could not really do our best.
"But I am assuring our fans that they will see a new Heartland when we take on Lobi Stars on Sunday.
"We want to win that match because with all the outstanding matches we have, there is hope that we can still qualify to play in the continent next year.
"I am not underrating Lobi Stars, but I think we need this match more than the Makurdi based side," Madu boasted.