Twelve hours after lifting the Federation Cup, players and officials of Heartland Football Club of Owerri left Lagos by road for a long trip to Owerri, the capital of Imo State. And this did not go down well with the Federation Cup champions who have won the trophy back-to-back.
Although the players were excited with themselves for their heroics, they were still bitter over the treatment meted to them by the state government under Governor Rochas Okorocha.
One of the players who craved anonymity said that the mood among them was low because they never expected they would travel by road to Owerri, particularly, as the number one citizen of the state was nisian club following the crowd trouble that led to the abandonment of a home fixture against Esperance on August 18.
Chinedu Efugh, Captain of Heartland FC of Owerri and team mates celebrating their victory in the 2012 FA Cup at Teslim Balogun Statium, Lagos. Heartland beat Lobi Stars of Markudi 2-1 to emerge winners. Photo by Sylva Eleanya. 26/8/2012.
This action eliminated Etoile from the competition and erasing their results with immediate effect and as a result, Esperance and Sunshine Stars with six points each on the table have now qualified from Group B.
In a statement CAF referred to "missile throwing, stones, bottles, firecrackers and pitch invasions" that occurred during the match in Sousse, which was played in front of Etoile supporters only.
Fans invaded the pitch twice and police used tear gas to disperse people before the referee was forced to call off the game on 69 minutes with Esperance 2-0 ahead.
Tunisian football has largely been played behind closed doors since the revolution in the country last year, mainly due to fear of crowd violence.
Sunshine and Esperence are billed to play a grudge game on September 2 in Tunis that match will now be mere of a formality.