Dokubo unhappy Heartland’s form remains dismal

By Blessing Fowowe

One of the biggest cliché in football is a game of two halves. That is true, and oftentimes than not, no two halves are always the same.

The Matchday 21 encounter between Sunshine Stars of Akure and Heartland FC of Owerri typifies that saying.

Both teams needing victory to help ease their relegation troubles took each halves of the game in Akure, but it was Sunshine who had enough in their armoury to grind out a win.

Sikiru Alimi’s brilliant strike in the 12th minute and Franklin Sasere’s goal ten minutes later after disposessing experienced Ike Thankgod of the ball at the edge of the box, in the first half was all Sunshine Stars needed to be assured of victory at home.

Following a lacklustre performance in the first half, it was all Heartland in the second half, but their second half surge was not enough to get them a favourable result in Akure as they slumped to a 2-1 defeat.

A disappointed Heartland assistant coach Ere Dokubo in a chat with npfl.ng, lamented the inability of his boys to make the most of their chances in the second half.

“I am not happy with my team, we lost the game in the first half. In the second half, we could not utilise our chances. Football is a game of two halves, Sunshine had their moment in the first half and they made good use of their chances,” Dokubo said.

With hopes of getting a win in Akure to boost their survival chances dashed, Dokubo however remains upbeat of Heartland’s quest to retain their Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) status.

“This is my second game with this team and our style of play has changed. I strongly believe that with the calibre of players we have now, we will get it right with the little changes we have to make in the team,” he concluded.

Sunshine Stars caretaker head coach Henry Abiodun praised the efforts of his team, commending them for staying tough till the end to win.

“I am happy for the boys, we needed the points and we got it. Football is a game of momentum, the early second half goal changed the tone of the game. Again, I praise my players, they were able to hang in there,” he said.

Sunshine have failed to keep a clean sheet since Matchday 8, and when asked, Abiodun offered an explanation.

“We thought we will get a clean sheet (against Heartland), but we conceded. The problem is poor recruitment. For the first time in 21 games, we played without Nojeem Raji and we had to draft a midfielder into centre half,” he said.

He remains hopeful of steering the team out of the murky waters of relegation.

“I hope this victory will be the turnaround we have been looking for. It’s the first time in about 10 games that we have led from start to finish. I hope the team will be off the drop zone, before the world Cup break,” Abiodun said.