Heartland recounts ordeal in the hands of Sunshine Stars’ supporters
Heartland FC of Owerri have described the attack unleashed on the team on Sunday by supporters of Sunshine Stars of Akure during the Week 33 Premier league game as a blight on the fledgling Nigerian football league.
The ‘Naze Millionaires’ Director of Media, Cajetan Nkwopara, alleged in a statement in Owerri yesterday that Heartland players and coaches came under direct attack while on the field of play by missile throwing supporters of Sunshine, leading to injuries on one player, Omo Johnson and one coach, Bob Acholonu, as well as creating distraction which enabled the host to equalize the game in added time.
According to Nkwopara, “it was absurd to see metal weapon being hurled on a player who was celebrating his wonderful assist that gave his side a goal and a lead three minutes before regulation time.
“Omo was not aware of the flying objects. He was busy on the pitch celebrating with his colleagues when a metal objet hit his left rib and he immediately fell down and temporarily lost consciousness. We thank God for the timely intervention of the medical team, which rushed in and took him out in an ambulance where he was later resuscitated.”
Nkwopara alleged that “Coach Acholonu was hit in the head and fell down but was treated and recovered by the sideline. As a result, our entire technical crew and substitute bench were evacuated from the bench area which became the target of the missile hurls and had to complete the game standing by the pitch panel behind the goal post area.”
He said Heartland officials and players were baffled by the sudden attack, alleging that it “was not provoked in any way by anybody order than the inability to endure a home defeat. But that action did not only blight on our league, it also impugns greatly on the cordial relationship that had hitherto existed between the two clubs.”
Nkwopara recalled that last season, Sunshine defeated Heartland 3-0 in Owerri and the home fans never molested anybody. He added: “This was the main reason we are surprised at the hostile behavior of Sunshine supporters in Akure on Sunday. For many times in the game, the referee had to stop the game as a result of objects being thrown on our team by the home supporters.”