CAF Cup: Heartland in trouble

CONGRATS — Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha (L) congratulates Heartland’s captain, Chinedu Efugh. Rochas Okorocha’s heart is not deep in the land of his state’s club and that has resulted in the state Heartland have found themselves today in the CAF Cup.

The club arrived Gabon Saturday, the day of their CAF Confederation Cup match with Union Sportif Bitam.

They scurried to Gabon in two small chartered aircraft on the day of the match but on getting to Libreville they learnt that they had been walked over at Bitam.

They won the first leg 2-1 in Owerri.

The Nigerian club have now petitioned CAF, hoping that the match could be rescheduled.

They may have a good case considering their visa and flight hitches in Nigeria. But the fact

remains that the state government led by interest in running a football club and this compounded their CAF Cup campaign.

A member of the Nigeria Football Federation said the following from Abuja yesterday: ‘’We are not happy with Imo State government because Heartland are representing Nigeria in the CAF Cup and their state government doesn’t appear to have interest in the club.

We know that the government does not release money in time to the club. We know that their remuneration is very poor. They receive N8m monthly and this is for salaries, bonuses, trips to league venues all over the country etc. Their counterparts receive more than N20 monthly. Heartland players take keke (Tricycle) to training because they don’t have a bus.

The governor promised to buy a bus for them two years ago but he has not redeemed it. Even after winning the FA Cup back to back, the club still suffers terrible government neglect. Government was said to have released money for the CAF Cup  three or four  days to the day of the match and this did not help them to plan well.

The Government of Rochas Okorocha has clearly shown they are not interested in football and the people of Imo State should understand this.”

After 18 years without a title Heartland welcomed Okorocha with the FA Cup in 2011 and won it again last year. They have won the Charity Cup back to back, a Super Cup  with two continental tickets all in the past three seasons. That is the club that cannot boast of a bus and their players take to Keke for training.

Okorocha has not made them a Champions league outfit.

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