The crisis and face-off between the Chairman of the Imo State government owned Heartland Football Club (FC), Goodfaith Etuemena, and the Deputy Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly/Supervisor of the side, Ugonna Ozuruigbo, deepened yesterday when the club boss dissociated himself and the board from the appointment of a new head coach for the team.
A statement on Thursday signed by the club’s Media Director, Cajetan Nkwopara, Etuemena dismissed Ozuruigbo’s employment of Cross River-based Camerounian, Emmanuel Deutsch, as Heartland’s new technical adviser, saying the move was just to factionalise the team.
The statement read: “Chairman of Heartland FC of Owerri, Goodfaith Etuemena has washed off his hands on the purported hiring of Cross River State-based Cameroonian, Emmanuel Deutsch as team’s new technical adviser by the Deputy Speaker, Imo State House of Assembly, Ugonna Ozuruigbo, a.k.a. OZB.
“Etuemena said both himself and the body of Heartland FC management was neither aware nor party to the hiring of Cameroonian, who was dropped as Heartland’s goalkeeper trainer before the team was able to pick a ticket to feature in the CAF Champions League competition in 2009.
“This action represents the first direct attempt to factionalize our darling team and turn it into another political movement. But I would plead with Nigerian football stakeholders to reject and resist it. As a matter of fact, we have a team of seasoned coaches handling the team at the moment and if we need to change any of them, we’ll go for coaches with greater pedigree,” he said.
Etuemena, who took over as chairman of Heartland on July 25 2016; long after the club had booked an inglorious position on the relegation log; also complained that the companies (such as OZB Communication) whose logos appeared on the backdrop used for the unveiling of Deutsch by the other faction of Heartland FC Management, have no sponsorship, partnership or affiliation with Heartland FC.”
He added: “For Heartland to get out of relegation in just one season as the people and government of Imo State have tasked the team, every effort should be made to unite the team and not divide it.
“I have said it severally, that as long as my deputy speaker of the house of assembly is able to understand and focus on his role, I’m ready and willing to work with him. I’m not a man of crises, I’m for peace any day.”