July, 7 2023.
Heartland of Owerri added yet another feather to its cap, by comfortably beating Kano Pillars to lift the 2023 Nigeria National League (NNL) Super 8 Play-offs trophy, on Saturday.
The play-offs finalé played at the Stephen Keshi Memorial Stadium, in Asaba was an anti-climax after all four teams emerged on Wednesday, when the group round-robin games were concluded simultaneously, in Asaba and Ogwashiukwu.
Playing without their inspirational captain Rabiu Ali, who was suspended for the red card he bagged in the match against Katsina United, the Sai Masu-Gida held their own as the first half ended goalless.
But Heartland broke their resilience by hitting the Bulls eye, with two second half goals from Francis Erikan and Fabian Omaka, as a subdued Pillars side literally stopped playing, while the Naze Millionaires wrapped up a 2-0 victory to emerge winner of the 2022/2023 NNL Super 8 tournament, www.ckdmedia.ng reports.
The two finalists who were watched by an appreciable number of spectators, had along with Sporting Lagos FC and Katsina United sealed their return to the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) on Wednesday after just one season in the NNL, following their relegation the season before.
Heartland's goalkeeper, Chisom Chiaha won the golden gloves award for his exceptional work in between the sticks, while Victor Mbaoma of Katsina United was crowned the king of goals, having scored all four goals, Katsina United scored at the Super 8.
Francis Erikan, also of Heartland was named the Man of the final match, as well as MVP of the Play-offs, which began on July 1st with the draws.
Heartland finished at the only unbeaten team at the NNL Super 8 Play-offs, and were also invincible in the regular season, where they won six and drew four of their fixtures.