Head coach of Heartland Football Club, Christian Obi, has said the Naija Super 8 play-offs provide a big opportunity for the club’s players to showcase their talent and make some money.
The former Nigerian league and cup winners stunned many by landing a spot in the glamorous Naija Super 8 play-offs, at the expense of other top-flight teams in the South-East, most notably Rangers International.
“I feel very good to be going to the Naija Super 8. Number one, it’s a platform to showcase the talents I have in my team and again it’s another opportunity for the players to also have encounters with more experienced players and officials and it’s a plus to us as a team in the sense that it also will prepare us for next season.
“If by his grace we scale through the play-offs, it is another opportunity to make some money and it’s an exposure to us both the players and the officials,” said Obi.
The Naze Millionaires have had a good season, having topped their Nigeria National League group without losing a match. Heartland will face the Nigeria Professional Football League champions, Enyimba International, at the Eket Township Stadium on 24 June. The winner of the tie will represent the South-East zone in the main Naija Super 8 tournament set to hold at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena in Lagos, from 7-16 July.
Obi explained that the club has had to overcome an internal crisis, and his players’ hunger for success has led them thus far. “Many people do not know how the team started. The team started with nothing. 98% of the regular players that played last season when the team was in the Premier League left, the coach also left to Abia Warriors,” began Obi who served as assistant to the former coach.
“I had to start from scratch, I organised matches among the teams in Imo State, they played against themselves so I had the opportunity of watching them and picking from the lot.
“It was those people I picked that I started grooming without the help of anybody. I groomed them till the government was able to come in and the seed I sowed in them is what we are seeing today.
“Thank God the players I picked were players that are hungry to play football. They saw an opportunity to showcase their skills and they capitalized on it and that’s what we’re seeing today, that is the secret of the unbeaten run. The players within a short time were able to master themselves and we’re playing,” the coach said.
Heartland vs Enyimba and other Naija Super 8 play-off matches will be live on SuperSport Football (DStv ch 205 & GOtv ch 61), SuperSport Variety 4 (DStv ch 209), and SuperSport Select 2 (GOtv ch 64).
Naija Super 8 is organised by Flykite Productions in partnership with MultiChoice Nigeria and sponsors, MTN, Hero Lager, DStv, GOtv, SuperSport, Moniepoint, Pepsi and Custodian Assurance.