NPFL: Ilechukwu Keeps Faith With Heartland Despite Unpaid Wages (AUDIO)

Heartland coach Fidelis Ilechukwu has said he will remain at the club for as long as he is wanted by the management and loved by the fans despite being owed five months salaries.

Ilechukwu, who joined The Naze Millionaires on a 3-year contract from MFM FC where he spent 13 years in August, endured a less than impressive first season at the Owerri-based club before the 2019/20 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) campaign was suspended in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The former MFM gaffer told in an exclusive interview that it is not in his nature to jump from club to club, and as such, would want to continue establishing his philosophy at Heartland.

Asked if the precarious financial situation at the club will trigger his departure, Ilechukwu said: “My staying is going to be a Heartland decision, because I am not that type of coach that wants to be running around from club to club. I suffered a lot to build my philosophy and it took me months here (at Heartland) to build the philosophy.

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“So, going to another place may not be the best for me because I love this place, the fans love me, they welcomed me, they’ve treated me well, especially in this pandemic, the kind of love they have shown to me from their places to make sure that I feed. They showed real love (to me).

“Probably, with that condition, I may stay in the team because the most important thing is when you believe that they love you, when you believe that you have their support because I got all their support before this pandemic.”

Ilechukwu, who remains optimistic the Imo State Government – owners of the club – will settle his outstanding wages, added: “But let’s see what is going to happen. Everything is going to be in the hands of the management. For me Ilechukwu, I still want to work here.”

Heartland occupy the 13th spot on the NPFL standings with 32 points from 25 matches, just 3 points from the drop zone before the season, which is now set to end abruptly, was suspended in March.

The former Olympic Eagles assistant coach admitted that things have not gone down well with the club in his first season in charge, but believes he can steer the team to better outings subsequently.

“It is not our best because we are 13th on the log,” he said. “I think this is not where we are supposed to be. But the most important thing is that we tried our best to make sure the team is stable.

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“But how I wish the season is still on, because I know there is a lot of things the team is supposed to give, which I believe is positive, that will make us be where I think we are supposed to be.

“But we thank God for everything. Hopefully, by next season we will get it right.”