Zeidine perfect home debut ends Heartland winless streak
Heartland new signing Ziedine Usman Ahimeye had a debut to cherish for the Naze Millionaires after he put up a man of the match display and scored the solitary goal from the spot as his new team ran out 1-0 winners against Go Round on Sunday in Owerri.
It was a perfect time to launch himself to the club’s Owerri fans but he was denied such luxury with the game played behind closed doors due to crowd trouble after a recent league tie with Plateau United.
Heartland had endured a torrid time in their recent matches but that ended after they secured their first league win from seven matches in their laboured 1-0 home win over Go Round.
The Naze Millionaires showed they were serious to take the three points from the outset but the downpour that started about 10 minutes before the commencement of the tie made the game a cagey affair.
Heartland fielded a strong side with Ike ThankGod, Uche Oguchi, Julius Ubido, Amaechi Orji, Fortune Omoniwari and another new signing, Nigerien Zeidine playing a focal role while Go Round’s Ngozi Elechi kept faith with most of his regular players including Nelson Esor, Okon Otop and Stanley Nwabali among others.
Heartland were the busier of the two teams in front of goal in the first half but Orji, Abiodun Thompson, Omoniwari and others were denied by the outstanding saves of Nwabali and wayward finishing.
The Naze Millionaires kept to the same routine in the second half and their effort was rewarded in the 72nd minute when the centre referee signalled an infringement in the vital area of the visitors for a push on Thompson by Ebuka Akobundu. But purists believed that the penalty kick decision was a bit harsh on the away team as it was observed that the incident leading to the spot kick didn’t warrant the infringement.
There was a little delay before the penalty kick was taken because Go Round protested the decision and one of their match officials was sent to the stands while Akobundu who committed the penalty kick was cautioned by the referee for dissent.
Heartland defended the lone goal lead as if their entire life depended on it and it was the noteworthy action after the goal was scored before the referee signalled the end of hostility in Owerri.
The home win takes the Naze Millionaires’ points’ haul to 19 from 22 matches but they are still last in the league table.
HEARTLAND: Japhet Opubo, Uche Oguchi, Chukwudi Oparaugo, Julius Ubido, Kenneth Ikwugbado, Ike ThankGod, Fuad Ekelojouti (Francis Momoh), Amaechi Orji, Abiodun Thompson, Fortune Omoniwari (Lucky Emariojake), Zeidine Usman Ahimeye
UNUSED SUBS: Ebele Obi, Nnamdi Egbujor, Macmarcel Obioha, Onyebuchi Onyechefula, Chimankpa Onwuebuchi.
Goal: Zeidine Usman (Heartland) 76′
Yellow Cards: Japhet Opubo, Abiodun Thompson ( Heartland)
GO ROUND: Stanley Nwabali, Kamoru Ogunjobi, Chinonso Udeh, Maurice Chukwu, Odinaka Onyirimba, Ebuka Akobundu, Nelson Esor( Bala Oloyade), Shedrack Oghali, Okon Otop, Chinonye Chinda, Stanley Worlu.
UNUSED SUBS: Godwin Ameh, Reuben Essien, Chris Kpekpe, Chile Azu, Adeseun Adelani, Christian Chukwukere.
Yellow Cards: Stanley Nwabali, Maurice Chukwu, Ebuka Akobundu, Okon Otop (Go Round)
Statistics: Heartland 1-0 Go Round
Throw ins: 24-28
Corner kick: 7: 4
Offside: 1: 7
Yellow Cards: 2-4
Shots on Target: 5-2
Shots off Target: 6-4
Man of the Match: Zeidine Usman Ahimeye (Heartland)
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