..As Osayande’s Stunner Earns Naze Millionaires’ First League Win
Heartland FC have ended their winless streak in the 2023-24 Nigeria Premier Football League season following their 1-0 home win over Bendel Insurance in Owerri on Wednesday in a Nigeria Premier Football League Matchday 12 tie.
The Naze Millionaires had played the previous five games without a win before their fans at the Dan Anyiam Stadium, Owerri but under new Technical Adviser, Kennedy Boboye, the team is experiencing a renaissance and the build up to the encounter indicated that the club’s maiden win of the season was in the horizon.
Boboye still kept faith with Chisom Chiaha for his top reflex saves in Ibadan against Shooting Stars last weekend with Christian Molokwu, Divine Ukadike, Peters Afolayan and Nnaemeka Anyanwu in defence. Other players listed in the first XI were Clement Ogbobe, Chidiebere Ajoku, Austin Osayande, George Jenom, Kingsley Arum and Ezekiel Bassey.
The moment of truth came in the 51st minute when Austin Osayande guided home a routine corner kick from Divine Ukadike with Bendel Insurance Goalkeeper, Amas Obasogie already displaced. It turned out to be the only goal of the game.
It took Heartland FC some time to settle into the game in the first half with the Benin Arsenals dictating the game’s pace. They had some chances to score in the opening 20 minutes but Chisom Okereke was unable to convert the chances that came his way.
Heartland came into the second half more purpose driven, spraying passes with more confidence and poise and also not allowing Bendel Insurance to march into their goal area.
The introduction of Onyekachi Okafor, Christian Weli and Ifeanyi Anyanwu in place of Kingsley Arum, Bassey Ezekiel and George Jenom in the 66th minute helped to strengthen the midfield area with Okafor a long ranger in attack.
Elvis Ori and Chinedu Ikechukwu were late substitutes that help to solidify the defence with goal scorer Austin Osayande and workaholic Chidiebere Ajoku given way.
The tactics paid off as Heartland FC celebrated wildly at the end of the game with the Supporters Club dancing and chanting Boboye’s name for guiding the Naze Millionaires to their first win of the season.
With the victory, Heartland FC left the bottom spot they previously occupied to move to the 19th spot with 10 points as they extended their unbeaten streak against Bendel Insurance to five games.
Heartland FC Technical Adviser, Kennedy Boboye was full of praise to his players for playing to instructions and also ensuring they kept another clean sheet on their way to clinching their first league win of the season.
He said the task of taking the Owerri side out of the drop zone had just begun and that they would go to Gombe ahead of the weekend game with Gombe United brimming with confidence that they could surprise their hosts with the game to be played under closed doors.
“I must first of all thank and congratulate the players for the first win of the season. They all fought as a team to get the desired result against Bendel Insurance,” Boboye told Heartland FC Media.
“With this win, we shall go to Gombe with the confidence that we can get a good result. Heartland is still work in progress and we shall continue working until we are able to get the team we desired.”