Heartland FC endured a frustrating afternoon on the opening day of the 2015/2016 Nigeria Professional Football League season. The Naze Millionaires were battled to a stalemate by visiting Warri Wolves in front of an appreciable crowd at the Dan Anyiam Stadium, Owerri.
Heartland went into the game with the core of their players from the last season with all eleven starters part of the team that finished mid-table in 2014/15 season. They could however not make their synergy count as CAF Champions League campaigners stood their ground in fighting out a 0-0 draw.
While Heartland went into the game with a settled team, same could not be said of Wolves who had just 14 players (instead of the usual 18) in their Matchday squad due to licensing issues. That would not stop the Peter Nieketien tutored lads from grinding out a result on a day of surprises across league venues in the country.
Wolves goalkeeper Tega Eriose twice denied Fortune Omoniwari in his trademark free kicks in the best of first half exchanges while old warhorse Chinedu Efugh saw yellow for a cynical challenge on Wolves striker Sikiru Alimi.
The second half was not better than the first as Heartland hitman Bright Ejike continued his misfiring from last season’s second stanza, hitting a feeble shot straight at Eriose on the turn.
The best chance of the day however fell to birthday boy Emeka Ogbugh but the Heartland No. 9 flashed his difficult header wide when completely left unmarked after some brilliant run by debutant Olayemi Fashina.
Disappointed fans headed for the exit door before the blast of the final whistle and while Wolves were gracious for their point after a series of unimpressive results in pre-season, Heartland and their fans were left to rue an unproductive day in office.
Heartland: 35. Emmanuel Iwu 14. Brownbraye Okpus 4. Zoumana Doumbia 26. Julius Ubido
29. Chinedu Efugh 24. Nelson Ogbonnaya 12. Collins Nwaneri 13. Fortune Omoniwari
8. Bright Ejike 6. Roland Koffi 9. Emeka Ogbugh
Subs: 18. Ebele Obi 30. Kingsley Ajaero 2. Olawale Doyeni 3. Chinedum Brandon 17. Olayemi Fashina 27. Chidiebere Ajoku 28. Uchenna Orisakwe
BOOKED: Chinedu Efugh, Brownbraye Okpus
Warri Wolves: 1. Tega Eriose 24. Goodluck Onamado 3. Joseph Eyimofe 20. Tunde Solomon 12. Semiu Liadi 17. Uche Ossai 9. King Osanga 10. Michael Okoyoh 22. Sikiru Alimi 13. Michael Egbeta 27. Ewenike Achibi
Subs: 21. Rhiogbere Tejiri 4. Bright Akpojuvwewo 8. Bernard Okorowanta
BOOKED: Goodluck Onamado, King Osanga