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Naze Millionaires battle ready for another Oriental derby test against Abia Warriors

Posted : 12 March 2024

Heartland FC were undoubtedly distraught by the outcome of their Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) Matchday 24 tie with Katsina United in Katsina last weekend. However, players, coaches, and officials of the Owerri-based team have put that result behind them as they concentrate on the home fixture with Abia Warriors on Wednesday in Awka.

The Naze Millionaires put up a commendable performance at the Muhammadu Dikko Stadium, Katsina, and even took the lead through Barnabas Ingya's beautiful header. Still, a late controversial decision changed the game's tide, and the visitors had to settle for a draw. A similar result occurred in Owerri in the first stanza.

The dust from that game in Katsina had hardly settled, but they have another important fixture with Abia Warriors looming around.

It is another Oriental derby that the visitors have dominated in the past until Heartland FC broke the unbeaten spell in 2020 under Fidelis Ilechukwu's reign as coach.

Abiodun Thompson scored the solitary goal at Okigwe Township Stadium. There was another win in 2022, also on May 1st in Owerri.

Considering the precarious position of Heartland FC on the league table, the Wednesday tie holds a lot of importance for the team.

It is a must-win as the club continues to negotiate their way out of the drop zone. Judging by the way the players handled the last two games with Sunshine Stars and Katsina United, it is expected that there won't be any reason for another lethargic home performance.

Heartland FC will work towards seeking the maximum points on Wednesday. The Naze Millionaires were impressive in Umuahia in the first-leg tie played in October and were unlucky to lose the game by a goal to nil.

The Owerri side's newly signed players are settling down fast, and the integration between them and the retained players has been very smooth.

With more hard work complemented by improved performance, Heartland FC can get the first win of the second stanza and kick-start the relegation escape route from there.

Heartland FC players and officials arrived from Katsina on Sunday night and are in high spirits to go all out for a positive result on Wednesday in Awka.

The current acting head coach of Abia Warriors, Bethel Orji, replaced Erasmus Onuh Olottah in 2015 at Heartland FC. Nine years later, in 2024, he will lead Abia Warriors to Awka to face his former club, having taken over again from Erasmus Onuh, this time at Abia Warriors.

New Abia Warriors recruits, Fabian Omaka and Arum Kingsley, could play against Heartland FC on Wednesday. They were Heartland players as of January 2024 before they swapped bases during the last mid-season transfer.

Chinedu Ozor is another player who formerly featured for Abia Warriors but now with Heartland FC. He could also be in the mix for Wednesday's tie.

Head to head:
- 29.10.2023: Abia Warriors 1-0 Heartland
- 01.05.2022: Heartland 2-1 Abia Warriors
- 16.01.2022: Abia Warriors 1-0 Heartland
- 21.07.2021: Abia Warriors 2-1 Heartland
- 07.03.2021: Heartland 2-2 Abia Warriors
- 12.01.2020: Heartland 1-0 Abia Warriors
- 12.05.2019: Heartland 2-4 Abia Warriors
- 06.02.2019: Abia Warriors 1-0 Heartland
- 08.04.2018: Heartland 0-0 Abia Warriors
- 19.06.2016: Abia Warriors 1-0 Heartland
- 28.02.2016: Heartland 0-1 Abia Warriors
- 23.08.2015: Abia Warriors 1-0 Heartland
- 22.04.2015: Heartland 0-1 Abia Warriors


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