Heartland FC will put their unbeaten record in the league since their stint in the Nigeria National League (NNL) last season to test when they face 2017 NPFL champions, Plateau United at the Jos Road Stadium, Jos on Sunday in an explosive Nigeria Premier Football League Matchday Two tie.
Both teams had contrasting results in the opening fixtures of the season with Plateau United losing 2-1 in Ibadan against Shooting Stars in Mbwas Mangut’s managerial bow as head coach of the Peace Boys. Heartland FC on their part needed to invoke the Spartans spirit to stage a dramatic fight back and rescued a point at home against Lobi Stars in a 2-2 draw. It was their first game in the topflight in two seasons following their successful return from the Nigeria National League (NNL) last season.
The Naze Millionaires have lost by three goals to nil on their last two travels to Jos in 2021 and 2022 seasons in that order before their brief demotion from the topflight in 2022. But the Owerri side will strive to avoid a repeat of that again this weekend judging by the confidence in camp and the verve with which the team rounded off their preparations for the tie.
With the shrewd transfer deals done during the preseason which brought in a blend of young and experienced players, Heartland FC will fancy their chances against Plateau United who seemed not to be at their best as they were some seasons ago.
Heartland FC showed they meant business this term with 25 players and officials travelling to Jos as early as Thursday and arriving the Plateau state capital on Friday for acclimatization and team bonding before the Sunday fixture.
Heartland head coach, Christian Obi acknowledged the mistakes his boys made in the home fixture against Lobi Stars last weekend and has stated that the Owerri side would play with more purpose, poise and aggression against Plateau United this weekend.
He said his boys have learned from the mistakes they made in the first half of the game with Lobi Stars and are determined to make amends in Jos this term.
“I thank God for giving us the grace to recognize when we are down and when we need to come up and I will also give kudos to my players for being able to come back from the verge of defeat,” Obi told Heartland FC Media.
“The first half didn’t go as we expected it. Our opponents capitalized on the mistakes we made to get the two goals but then the first half break afforded us the chance to devise a way to change a few things and we were able to comeback.
“Every tactic in a team goes with certain set of players. The home tactics will definitely be different with the away tactics so you may see one or two changes to establish the tactics we want to play in Jos.
“We have a new team and this is a new beginning. We are going to return from Jos with a good result. I have a team for the NPFL season. I have a team that can face Plateau United.”
*Plateau United vs Heartland Past Five Matches Results:*
21-4- 2022 Heartland 1-0 Plateau United
2-1- 2022 Plateau United 3-0 Heartland
27-5- 2021 Heartland 1-1 Plateau United
10-1- 2021 Plateau United 3-0 Heartland
12-8- 2019 Heartland 1-0 Plateau United