Aiteo Cup: Heartland fault NFF resolution, seek Minister’s intervention
by Oviri Kelvin, Sports Editor, Abuja
Heartland FC of Owerri have faulted the resolution by Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to schedule a replay of the Aiteo Cup quarter-finals for August 20 against Katsina United.
The club said they are not willing to go that route having defeated Katsina United earlier in the round of eight to proceed to the semi-final.
Following the above position by the Naze Millionaires, the management of the Owerri-based club forwarded a petition to the Honourable Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, to vent their frustration over the nation’s football governing body to reschedule a match they duly won.
In the petition forwarded to Dare, the Heartland accused NFF of having a sinister motive which the football body can only refute by unambiguously affirming them as a semi-finalist in the oldest football competition in the nation.
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“The only way the NFF would reassure us that they are not up to anything sinister is to make it clear that Heartland is through to the semifinal,” the statement read in part.
Recall that during the course of competing in the Aiteo Cup tourney, the participating clubs got informed of the NFF’s decision to hand Kwara United the second qualifying ticket to compete in the CAF Confederation Cup after Remo Stars booked their place for finishing third on the log in recently concluded Nigeria Professional Football League Season.
The consequence of NFF’s decision resulted in clubs that have already qualified to play the round of eight boycotting the competition except for Heartland and Katsina United.
However, the NFF in a bid to tackle the shortfalls awarded N3 million to clubs that qualified for the quarterfinal while that of Heartland of Owerri and Katsina United reviewed to N5 million should both clubs decide to honour a rematch.
Meanwhile, Promise Nwachukwu, Heartland of Owerri Acting General Manager, underlined that the competition has reached a critical stage that does not warrant unmerited privileges handed to any club.
Nwachukwu, however, added that the Nigerian football community, including stakeholders, fans and sponsors are watching closely to see how the organisation of the 2022 competition turns out.