Heartland boss Fidelis Ilechukwu would rather work towards making his players stronger mentally and have them all pull in the same direction than put them “under pressure” by setting targets this season.
The Naze Millionaires kick off their 2020-21 Nigeria Professional Football League campaign with a trip to Katsina United on Monday, a match that would herald Ilechukwu’s second season in charge of the Owerri club.
His appointment to the Heartland job after more than a decade at Lagos club MFM was greeted with plenty fanfare but the truncated nature of last season owing to the coronavirus pandemic means no objective measure can be taken of his impact so far.
However, his short term in charge has been blighted by a myriad of problems both on and off the pitch ranging from boardroom power struggles to arrears of unpaid salaries and bonuses for staff and players.
Recent developments, however, show a semblance of normalcy is returning to the club suggesting that the turmoil of last season could be a thing of the past.
Having had to deal with a ton of negativity off the pitch with attendant detrimental effects on the pitch, Ilechukwu is loathe to invite undue pressure by setting definite targets for himself and his players this season, believing such a move would be counter productive.
Instead, the national U23 assistant coach says his players would be better served by building up reserves of mental strength, resilience and a positive mindset that will help them block out distractions and rebound from setbacks that would invariably crop up in the course of the season.
“I don’t want to set targets for myself, you know in football there are some things you do put you under pressure. I know what we have and sometimes it’s not always good to expose yourself because even people want to put you under pressure,” he told busybuddiesng.com.
“What I think we need to do now is make most of the players positive so that players will give their best and we’re trying to do that. Another thing I think we need to do is to make them to keep positive even when there’s a lot of negativity.
“Let them know that only when we’re positive we will fight negative. So that’s what I think we should do and with that I think we’re ready to go.”