The Nigeria Federation Cup round of 32 tie between Heartland FC and Enugu-based non-league club Ingas FC at the UJ Esuene Stadium, Calabar, on Wednesday, lived up to its billing and the Owerri champions were not spared of their opponent’s challenge.
Bright Ejike scored the match winner in the 15th minute to send Heartland into the fourth round of the oldest cup competition in the land.
Heartland coach, Nduka Ndubuisi, after the encounter told supersport.com that experience and resilience earned his side the victory, claiming that their opponent where determined to spring up surprises.
“We were favourites going into the game even the opponents, Ingas FC knew that we’ll win but didn’t want to go down without a fight,” Ndubuisi told supersport.com.
“It was a hard won fight, the underdogs made us to sweat to our panties, I think they’re not disgraced but lost gallantly.
Heartland defeated Lobi Stars in the 2012 Federation Cup final at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos to record a second successive victory after claiming the 2011 edition at the expense of Enyimba.
They were drawn bye in the round of 64 fixtures (being defending champions), while Ingas scale through the challenge of Nigeria National League (NNL) side, Ranchers Bees to reach the round of 32.
Coach Ndubuisi believes his side is well on course to win a third successive cup title.
“The dream for a treble is very much alive, we can now take it up from here towards achieving our lofty goal,” added Ndubuisi.