The Owerri are on the verge of reaching the final of this year's CAF Champions League after an emphatic 4-0 home win over fellow Nigerian side Kano Pillars on Sunday at the Dan Anyiam Stadium in Owerri.
This result was even better than the pre-match boast of skipper Ike ThankGod, who had predicted a 3-0 win in this semi-final first leg clash over the visiting Pillars.
Experienced striker Emeka Nwanna and Uche Agba helped themselves to a brace each in the first half to give Heartland a comfortable lead going into the return leg match in Kano in northern Nigeria most probably in the coming weekend.
Pillars have asked the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to bring forward the second leg because their home ground, the Sani Abacha Stadium, will be surrendered to the organisers of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup that Nigeria will stage from October 24.
After the Kano outfit failed to take advantage of a slip in the middle of the Heartland back four in the 10th minute, Nwanna headed the host team in front off a corner kick.
Heartland doubled their lead in the 17th minute when Agba cracked home from outside the box past goalkeeper Theophilus Joel.
However, the full house at the Dan Anyiam Stadium cheered a third goal in the 34th minute for arguably the best goal of the day, when Nwanna half-volleyed home a cross from fullback Orji Kalu to completely beat the Pillars goalkeeper.
Heartland netted their fourth goal in the 45th minute when skipper Joel surprisingly spilled a cross by Ibenegbu for a lurking Agba to stab home.
The Pillars goalkeeper had to be in a better form in the second half to prevent a complete humiliation of his team. He pulled off two point-blank saves, first off Stanley Okoro six minutes after the restart and then off substitute striker Signs Chibambo in the dying moments of the encounter.
Despite the introduction of Bello Kofarmata and Moses Ogaga in the second period, Pillars hardly looked like a team capable of scoring against a very organised Heartland defence. It may well be the same story in the second leg in Kano.
Samm Audu, Goal.com