Heartland Technical Adviser, Obi Backs Team for NPFL Promotion this Season 

Kunle Adewale

The technical Adviser of Heartland Football Club of Owerri, Christian Obi is optimistic that the club would return to Nigeria’s elite football division at the end of the 2022/23 Nigeria National League season.

According to the 2005 U20 bronze medalist in Moscow, “arrangement is in top gear at ensuring Heartland gain promotion to the Nigeria Premier Football League, NPFL at the end of the season,” Obi said.

“I have prepared a crack team of players that are determined and ambitious, with the ultimate ambition of playing in the elite division with Heartland after this season,” he noted.

Some of  the players like the former Julius Berger of Lagos safe hand is hoping to prosecute promotion are,

Jeremiah Ndukwe (Defensive Midfielder, Solo FC), Anthony Okemiri (winger, Abia Warriors), Tunde Franklin Oyewole (striker, Sunshine Stars), Onyekachi Okafor (Striker, Alisman, Oman), Chukwujekwu Onuoha (Centre back, Nnewi United) and Chukwuma Nwankwo Others include Fabian Omaka (attacking midfielder, Enyimba), Udeozor Ikechukwu (Left back, Nnewi United).

Others include, Bright John Chimezie (Goalkeeper, Dakkada FC), Afolayan Peters (Centre back,  Dino Sporting Club), Gideon Julius (Akwa United), Arum Chukwuebuka (striker, Amanda FC), Chibuzor Ezeocha (Striker, Heartland Comets), Wohuruche Victor (midfielder, Go Round) and Chisom Chiaha (Goalkeeper, Nnewi United).

It would be recalled that the Commissioner for Youth, Sports and Social Development, Emeka Okoronkwo had charged that Heartland FC should focus on their league games right from the start against Abia Comets as they eye a quick return to the NPFL.

Okoronkwo noted that Imo State Governor, Senator, Hope Uzodinma has assured the team of adequate support during the NNL season and that he has given them the marching order to ensure premier league games return to Owerri.

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“We are happy with the development here today. It is the wish of His Excellency, Senator Hope Uzodinma to see that Heartland FC return to the premier league at the end of the season,” Okoronkwo said.

“The Governor has told me to inform you that you are going to get all the necessary support and encouragement to ensure Heartland FC leaves the lower league.

“We have unveiled the new players whom we know will carry out the Governor’s aspiration to the letter. Heartland FC belong to the premier league and we are certain the present crop of players in the team will achieve that.”

However, Obi has expressed his displessure over the 23-man list released by Super  Eagles coach  Jose Peseiro following his refusal to invite enough home- based players.

The Portuguese invited only one NPFL  player- Victor Sochima of Rivers United along with two Academy players who featured for  the Flying Eagles at the just concluded Africa U-20 AFCON.

“The Nigeria Football Federation, NFF egg heads believe only in foreign-based players, but its high time the federation should start considering home-based players for invitation for Super Eagles matches, if not for anything but exposure,” Obi expressed.

The former goalkeeper also noted that, “inviting NPFL players to the national team gives them hope and want them to aspire for more.”

For Obi, the difference between the foreign and home-based players is the exposure to better facilities of the foreign-based players. “Aside the better facilities they are exposed to, talents abound in the NPFL,” he concluded.

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It would be recalled that Super Eagles assistant coach, Finidi George expressed optimism that players from the NPFL will be selected for the 2024 AFCON qualifier against Guinea Bissau on March 24 and 27.

Finidi claims that the league has players that are talented enough to be part of the squad.

“The game against Guinea Bissau, if it’s necessary, we have to mix the team; bring some home-based players and overseas-based players and see how we can get the result.

“But this notion that only players based abroad should be invited is not totally a good idea.”

However, it was not to be as only one player from NPFL was invited for the two-legged game.

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