ABOUTRIKA RUINS HEARTLAND'S FUN IN OWERRI
Coach Samson Siasia
Coach Samson Siasia's first outing with the last year's CAF Champions League finalist, Heartland Football Club of Owerri, was made a sad beginning by Mohammed Aboutrika of Ahly who scored a 75th minute penalty to deny the Naze millonaires the maximum points.
Heartland was coasting home with the goal it scored in the 49th minute through its Kano import, Bello Kofarmata, when the centre referee pointed to the penalty box. Aboutrika, the veteran Egyptain striker, made no mistake in slotting the ball pass Heartland's goalkeeper.
Speaking with Daily Sunsport after the match, the media officer of Heartland, Cajetan Nkwopara, said the centre referee should be blamed for the outcome of the match because he made questionable calls that only favoured the visitors.
According to Cajetan: I was impressed with the performance of the players but the centre referee from Senegal made it difficult for us. 'If you watched closely, the call that resulted to the penalty that was converted by Aboutrika, the player that collected the ball was clearly offside but instead of the assistant referee to raise his flag for an offside, he allowed play to continue only for the man in the centre to point to the penalty spot. 'Infact, we had our chances but the collusion of the referee and his assistants made it difficult for the players to play their game.
'As I speak to you, the technical crew is yet to come to terms with the scoreline because we out played Ahly but as it is said, this is football and anything can happen. 'Who says we cannot go to Egypt and win there, so we are not losing sleep over this result', he said
Heartland is drawn in group B alongside Ahly, Ismaily and JSK and it has been predicted by bookmakers that the winner of this year's CAF Champions League shield will emerge from this group. Heartland has a task on its hands to win the trophy to return to the continent as it has missed out in the league as well as the FA cup.