Akwa United was close to leaving Owerri with a point but they couldn’t find the much needed equalizer; Heartland hung on to win on the day. Here are 3 things from the match.
When will Heartland start playing like they are at home?
Heartland got the vital three points against Akwa United but as the 1-0 score line showed; their performance could have earned them less. Yes, good teams have days when they play poorly and still manage to grind out results but with Heartland such lackluster performances are fast becoming routine.
Gone are the days when Heartland is dominant at home. Nowadays, they are just barely limping over the finish line in matches. They have had 8 draws this season; the most in the championship, 5 of which was at home. Secondly, they don’t score enough goals. Of the 15 games they’ve played this season, they have scored more than one goal just once (their 2-0 victory against Rangers) all others were either none or just one. The table shows they have scored 11 and conceded 10; that says it all.
Good teams make their home ground formidable. They put up strong, attacking and clinical displays that make teams want to even throw in the towel before the ball is kicked but no, not in Owerri nowadays. Games like this one are nail biting, edgy and very tense for the fans.
Heartland were able to score the lone goal against Enyimba only very late into the game while Sharks, Dolphins, Nasarawa United, El Kanemi Warriors and most recently Abia Warriors all happily left Owerri with a point. In other words more than ever, teams now believe they can come to Owerri, put up a good performance and get rewarded.
Heartland must improve on their home front; they must do more in training to better their goal scoring, end their flirting with the lower bottom of the table and of course save their fans some agony.
Iwu: One for the future:
A lot has been said about the young Heartland goalkeeper Emmanuel Iwu and if he keeps up with his performances, he surely will be one of the best goalkeepers in the country.
He’s the youngest player in the Heartland first team but his commitment is unrivalled. His reflexes are sharp; his distribution impressive and same can be said of his handling. Thrown into the league at such a tender age, Iwu is proving with his displays that he wants to keep Ebele Obi permanently on the bench.
Heartland played Iwu against Enyimba and Kano Pillars in Kano and in both games, they got 4 points out of 6. Against Akwa United, he didn’t do much all game because the defence limited the Uyo side to long range shots that got sailing over the bar but in the second half, he pulled a world class save from Enezi’s goal bound volley. It was late in the game and had that effort gone in, it would have been another 2 points dropped for Heartland. The youngster proved his alertness and concentration to tip the ball over the bar.
Heartland have a promising youngster in Iwu and should he give it the commitment and hard work his vocation requires, he can become one of the best in the world.
Edo’s injury can benefit Akwa United:
Injuries are never a good thing but Akwa United can benefit from the news that Nnamso Edo is ruled out for at least 2 weeks due to a muscle injury. He has scored 5 of their 13 goals this season and he is beyond any doubt, one of the best dead ball specialists in the league but something about their display after he was stretched out that the Uyo team can learn from.
They have come to rely on him and his dangerous deliveries so much that it appears they are abandoning their own beautiful-to-watch attacking football. In the first half, they did very little except look hopefully when there was a set piece into the box but after the defender left in the second half, Godspower Aniefiok began to wave his magic, releasing a number of good balls that kept the Heartland defence on their toes.
Akwa will definitely have to cope with life without Edo’s dangerous set pieces but they have a play pattern capable of keeping them afloat till he returns.