Heartland celebrating their Federation Cup win
Lobi Stars of Makurdi hope to dethrone Heartland of Owerri in today’s Federation Cup final to keep alive their quest for the double this season. Lobi are second on the Nigeria Premier League table with 63 points, a point behind leaders Kano Pillars, who they incidentally eliminated to reach Sunday’s final.
Lobi captain Ikpeen Terna told MTNFootball.com Heartland will fall to the Makurdi team in today’s match to be played at the Teslim Balogun stadium.
“We are ready for the Federation Cup final against Heartland. This is a great opportunity for us to win the double, we are in good form and spirit to win the trophy. I see nothing special about them. If we could beat Kano Pillars and others, Heartland will go down too,” declared Terna.
Victory for Lobi in Lagos Sunday would put them in the right frame for their final match of the NPL away to Kaduna United. Lobi’s impressive showing in the league has been attributed to their invincibility at the sub-standard Katsina-Ala Stadium, but top official Dominic Iorfa has brushed aside such talk.
“Why is it that it is now that they are lamenting about our stadium? Before we went to Katsina Ala, we played all our home matches away from home,” said vice-chairman Iorfa, who also doubles as the club’s technical adviser.
The last time a team won a league and cup was in 2006 when Dolphin defeated Bendel Insurance to add the FA Cup to the league title won that year.
However, Lobi, cup winners in 2003, will have their hands full against cup holders Heartland, who upstaged regional rivals Enyimba in last year’s final to put an end to their long wait for a major trophy.
Heartland, then known as Iwuanyanwu Nationale, won their last piece of silverware in 1988 and had to wait for 13 years before their victory over ‘Oriental’ rivals Enyimba last year.
Heartland general manager, Fan Ndubuoke said they are prepared to keep that trophy for another year.
“We want to win this trophy again and get a ticket to represent Nigeria on the continent next season,” he said. Interestingly, Dolphin were the last team to record a back-to-back victory in the cup competition, winning it in 2006 and 2007.
To get to the final, both sides defeated their opponents after penalty shootouts after goalless affairs in normal time. Lobi edged past Kano Pillars 5-4 on penalties in Calabar, while Heartland put paid to the ambition of giant killers Prime FC of Osogbo in Ilorin 3-0, also on penalties.
The winners of the Federation Cup will represent Nigeria in next year’s CAF Confederation Cup.