Fidelis Ilechukwu led Heartland of Owerri to a 2-1 defeat of MFM FC at the weekend in Agege, but he believes the defeat notwithstanding, the Lagos-based Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) side still has a bright future this season.Ilechukwu, who coached MFM for many years, knows the quality in the players and management of the Olukoya Babes.
Two goals by Adachi Emmanuel in the seventh and 55th minutes gave Heartland their first away win of the season, while Muyiwa Balogun got MFM’s consolation strike in the 49th minute.
Speaking while still savouring his team’s victory at the Agege Stadium, Ilechukwu said his boys played against a fantastic team that thrilled everyone with their possessive brand of football in the second stanza.
“We thank God for the victory, though it wasn’t an easy match for us. As it is now, I am not happy with the quality of the game, but more importantly is the three points. We needed to fight and come out of relegation and the boys did it. But I think MFM have a fantastic team.
“Before the beginning of the game, I told the boys if we lose or even take a point out from the game that four players must go. In the last three games or so, we’ve been losing matches in the dying minutes. To me, it means the boys are not serious at their job.
“Winning against a better MFM’s side was a relief because at the end of the day I thank God we won the game. MFM beat us at home last season and today it was our turn to do what they did to us,” he said.
Lamenting the sorry state of his team, Ilechukwu said: “Contracts with players must be respected and that is why they must pay the outstanding salaries owed the players. If there are still few players being owed, they need to pay them to clear all the outstanding debts.”
He described the quality of his team’s jersey, which numbers were written by hand as part of the crisis facing the club, Ilechukwu said things would be normalised before their next match.
Also reacting to the game, MFM coach, Tony Bolus said: “The defeat was a very terrible one because we never planned for this bad day. As the coach, I take responsibility for everything that happened. I know my team too well; it is just how the game was meant to end.
“The league is just starting and we still have 29 games to go. The boys had a slow start in the first half and picked up in the second half when we equalized. But then we gave away another cheap goal.”