Heartland Football Club founded as Spartans F.C., later known as Iwuanyanwu Nationale from 1985 to 2006 is a football club based in Owerri, Nigeria. The club currently plays in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL), the country’s highest level of professional club football.
Heartland FC Youth Development System
Heartland FC Recruitment Trials
At the time of this writing, there are no official publishings on Heartland FC trials. Please come back at a later date while we monitor this club or click here to visit their official youth academy web page.
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Heartland FC History
In 1976, the organization was initially established as Spartans FC. At the Township Stadium on Tetlow Road in Owerri, Nigeria, in August of 1976, the Spartans played their first international match, which was a friendly versus Ararat Yerevan of the Soviet Union.
The Spartans won the match 2-0. The Spartans Football Club had the backing of the Imo State government, which itself had been established in 1976, as well as the backing of the state administration, which included the support of the state military. The Old Owerri Stadium served as the host venue for Spartans FC matches. Iwuanyanwu Nationale FC was once known as Spartans FC.
In 1985, after successfully transferring control of the team from the Imo State Government to Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, the club was renamed. In January of 1986, Iwuanyanwu Nationale went to Brazil on a training tour that lasted for three weeks. During that particular campaign, Nationale finished in second place in the Nigerian premier league. The latter half of the 1980s was the most successful era in the club’s history, as it was during this period that they won four titles in a row, from 1987 to 1990.
During this time period, the club featured a number of players who were also members of the Nigerian national team, including Thompson Oliha, Benedict Iroha, and Uche Okechukwu. Iwuanyanwu Nationale won their first of four consecutive league championships in 1987, beating Leventis United to the title by virtue of having a greater goal differential than their opponent.
The victory in the league gave them the opportunity to compete for Nigeria in the CAF Champions Cup. Iwuanyanwu Nationale did the double in 1988 by defending their title as League champions and also winning the Nigerian FA Cup for the first time. In the championship game, they defeated Flash Flamingoes of Benin by a score of 3-0.
The club also made it to the final of the CAF Champions Cup, where they played Entente Setif and won the first leg of their match 1–0 in Ibadan but were defeated 4–0 in the return leg in Constantine, Algeria.
The Iwuanyanwu kept their league title in 1989, but they were defeated by BCC Lions in the FA Cup final by a score of 0–1. Ben Iroha scored the first goal for the team in the first-ever game in the newly professional Nigerian league, which took place in Lagos and was contested against Stationery Stores of Lagos. The team won the game by a score of 2–1.
The first professional league in Nigeria was won by Nationale, who went on to become champions. The club’s fortunes eventually shifted for the worst in 1991, when Nationale was defeated by Julius Berger in the championship game of the league. The club was also eliminated from the CAF Champions Cup in the quarterfinals.
They were defeated by Nakivubo of Uganda 4–3 on aggregate, including a 1–1 tie at home in a match where a win would have advanced them to the championship game. Bendel Insurance was Nationale’s closest competition for the league championship in 1993, but Nationale prevailed with a 2–0 victory away against El-Kanemi Warriors in the last league match to take the championship. Nwankwo Kanu, who was only 16 years old at the time, was a key member of the 1993 squad and scored 15 goals in 25 appearances.
After the 1993 campaign, Kanu would sign with Ajax to continue his career. In the 1994 Champions League season, Heartland was involved in a terrible accident. Nationale advanced to the quarterfinals of the Champions Cup despite suffering a defeat at the hands of Espérance de Tunis of Tunisia by a score of 3-0 in the first leg of their match on September 18 in Algeria.
Iwuanyanwu chartered a plane with Oriental Airlines to fly him home from Tunis on the evening of the game, but the plane crashed while landing at Tamanrasset, which is located in southern Algeria. The plane was involved in a collision with a runway lamp and a fire truck. A defender named Aimola Omale and a goalie named Uche Ikeogu were among the four people who passed away in the tragedy.
The other victims were two pilots and a flight attendant. During the landing, the aircraft reportedly broke up into three separate pieces, as stated by the striker Tony Nwaigwe. The CAF postponed the return leg match that was supposed to take place in Owerri on October 3 till October 10. The second encounter between Nationale and the opponent would end in a 1-1 draw, and Nationale would be eliminated from the competition.
Iwuanyanwu encountered a greater degree of competition in the Nigerian domestic league during the 1995 season. This was the first season following the plane tragedy. Iwuanyanwu was able to avoid relegation by winning only a couple of games, thanks to the leadership of manager Uche Ejimofor.
One of these games was a match that was played three times against the 1994 champions BCC Lions, and it ended in a 1–1 tie in the third and final attempt. 1999 was the year that Iwuanyanwu won the league, but they ultimately ended up losing the championship to Lobi Stars of Makurdi in the first-ever play-off for the Super League.
They were also runner-up in the Nigerian F.A. Cup, which was won by Plateau United. They defeated their local rivals FC Arugo in the semifinals with a score of 2–1, which broke the hearts of the fans there. Uche Ejimofor, who had previously worked as the manager of Iwuanyanwu, had only recently established Arugo in 1999. Gabriel Anats, a footballer for Iwuanyanwu, passed away in the middle of the season in 2000 due to a tetanus illness.
Iwuanyanwu achieved a third-place finish in both the Premier League and the Coca-Cola FA Cup in 2005 while coach Stanley Eguma was in charge of the team. Heartland Football Club was formerly owned by Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, but on February 7, 2006, the team was reacquired by the Imo State Government, who then changed the club’s name to Heartland FC.
By virtue of their second-place result in the Premier League in 2008, which was only one point below that of Kano Pillars, Heartland qualified for the Champions League in 2009. After tying TP Mazembe 2–2 on aggregate, Heartland would go on to make it all the way to the finals of the 2009 CAF Champions League, although they would ultimately lose to away goals.
However, a Heartland own goal scored in the 73rd minute of the second leg in Lubumbashi meant that the Nigerian team ended in second place overall. Heartland won the first leg at home by a score of 2–1. The failure of the club to win the Champions League led to the hiring of Christian Chukwu as a technical consultant and Fan Ndubuoke as the general manager of the club. The team has not been victorious in a league championship since 1993, when it took home the Federation Cup for the first time.
Chinedu Efugh, Heartland’s captain, scored the game-winning goal in the 40th minute to lead his team to a 1-0 victory over the heavily favored Enyimba. Randsom Madu was a member of the coaching staff as well as a player on the squad that won the cup in 1993.
Because of this, he was able to enjoy the victory in both capacities. Heartland was unable to repeat their previous success in the league and finished in the middle of the standings. At the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos, Heartland defeated Lobi Stars by a score of 2–1 in the cup finals to successfully defend the title it had won in 2012.
In 2013, Heartland was knocked out of the Confederations Cup after their opponent, US Bitam of Gabon, granted them a walkover in their match. Heartland won the first leg of the match 2–1 in Owerri, however they were unable to make it to Gabon in time for the match because they experienced delays departing Nigeria owing to visa and travel complications. Their complaint did not have any effect, and Bitam was allowed to continue in the competition. The year 2016 marked the first time that the club has been demoted.
Heartland FC Stadium
The Dan Anyiam Stadium is a multi-use stadium that can be found in Owerri, which is located in the state of Imo in Nigeria. The stadium was named after Daniel Anyiam, who served as the vice-captain of the very first Nigeria national football team. It is located in the middle of Owerri, which is the capital of Imo State and the capital of Imo State.
The stadium has a capacity of 10,000 people.