London Hearts Supporters Club

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Csaba Laszlo <-auth Colleen Paterson auth-> Steve Conroy
Stewart Michael [D Cadamarteri pen 3] ;[D Cadamarteri 86]
3 of 018 ----- L SPL A

Obua calls on Hearts to pour in the goals

DAVID OBUA today admitted that Hearts' defenders and midfielders must take more responsibility when it comes to hitting the back of the net this season.
The Ugandan scored a spectacular goal in the pre-season friendly against Sunderland earlier this month and is keen to add more strikes to his game when the domestic campaign kicks off for real when Hearts travel to face Dundee United tonight.

And he's urging the rest of his team-mates to help take the pressure off the strikers at the club by doing the same and weighing in with a few goals of their own over the next few months.

While Csaba Laszlo's side earned a place in the Europa League qualifiers with a third-place finish in the SPL last season, there were some concerns about a lack of firepower.

Their 3-0 win over Dundee United apart, Hearts failed to scored any other goals in the final six matches of the SPL season and Laszlo – who will be without Calum Elliot at Tannadice tonight – has openly admitted that he is currently scouring the market for another striker to bolster his squad.

Obua's opener against the Black Cats was one to remember, the gangly Ugandan spinning on his heels to leather Suso's corner off the crossbar and down into goal from the edge of the box.

And he's keen to see more goals going in right across the team. He said: "It's not only about me, there are a lot of people in this team who are capable of scoring goals and hopefully we will see more of them going in this season. If the team can put in a lot of hard work collectively then we will do well.

"We don't have any Cristiano Ronaldos in this team, we have no superstars. What we do have though is a bunch of players who are willing to work hard for one another and for the team as a whole and any of our players can score.

"On any particular day goals can come from anywhere in the side and hopefully the defenders and the midfielders can do their bit to help the strikers out.

"Hopefully we can all end the season on a good goals tally."

Obua is relishing the prospect of playing games on the big stage over the course of the next couple of weeks but admits that three matches in less than seven days will put something of a strain on the players in the opening stages of their league and European campaigns. Tonight's game is followed on Thursday by the game against Dinamo Zagreb in Croatia and three days later Hearts take on Rangers in the SPL.

"It's a good time to be involved with the side right now because of the league and the European competition and everything. But we know that the next couple of weeks are going to be very difficult ones as well," he said. "We are playing three hard games in the space of a week and it's really important that we are fully focused on the next three opponents.

"We have played three games in a short period of time and we got through it but you do get really tired. It's a situation that you hope doesn't happen very often but when it does you just have to get on with it and do your best, there's no other option.

"We'll take it one game at a time, obviously we want to do well in Europe, but first of all we have got to take care of the Dundee United game before we look at anything else.

"We want to get off to as good a start in the league as we possibly can and to do that we have to shut everything else out of our minds.

"When the final whistle blows after the Dundee United game tonight, then we can look forward and see what happens after that."

Laszlo officially named Michael Stewart as the new club captain last week, although the manager emphasised that he wants vice-captain Marius Zaliukas to take on just as much responsibility.

Obua believes that both players are a popular choice in the dressing room and that they will have the players all pulling in the one direction, adding: "The coach has made his choice and hopefully now we have a leader or leaders who can take us out onto the pitch and we feel like they are there for the whole team.

"Michael will fight for the team and I'm sure that he will show that he is there for the whole team and that we will all be pulling in the one direction and fighting for the one goal. Most definitely the manager brings the team together. I hope that he can do that again this season because it can make such a difference and we have no big-time players here.

"If you are together then the team plays so much better. If the team fights for one another and respects one another then everything is okay.

"I am really enjoying my football at the moment, we're working really hard and I think that everyone has really benefited from our pre-season," Obua went on.

"We've put a lot of effort in and played in some really good games against quality opposition.

"We've lost some games, drawn some and won some and I think that there are real signs that the team is really beginning to gel.

"Everyone is up for the first game of the season and we can't wait to get started."

At 6ft tall himself, Obua may be head and shoulders above the majority of his Tynecastle team-mates but admits that even he could be dwarfed by United's backline tonight.

Lee Wilkie is currently recovering from knee surgery and, although he played 90 minutes for United's Under 19s earlier this week, he is not expected to be back in contention for a first-team place until next month.

However Darren Dods at 6ft 1in and Garry Kenneth and Mihael Kovacevic, both 6ft 4in, are all are among the defenders at Craig Levein's disposal and Obua said: "It will be a very difficult game for us, we know that they are always tough to beat, especially when the game is on their home ground," Obua conceded.

"We need to try to prevent their tall guys from getting the better of us. It's a little bit like the land of the giants in their defence with players like Lee Wilkie

"Those guys are huge but we will give them as hard a time as we possibly can and hopefully get the season off to a good start with a couple of goals and three points on the board.

"It would be good if our fans turned out in big numbers to support us because they always give you a real boost – they can help us to scare them off.

"Getting a win on Monday would be so fantastic and it would be a great way to head into the game against Zagreb."

Tonight's game, which will be televised live by ESPN, will be played out under a new £250,000 floodlighting system.

United's Scott Robertson will be playing his first competitive football of 2009, having suffered a groin injury in the first half of last season which later required surgery to rectify the problem.

He's featured in friendly matches against the likes of Newcastle and Blackburn during United's pre-season warm-ups but insists that nothing will compare to opening the SPL season against Hearts: "I have basically not played at all competitively in 2009 so that has made me even keener to get going," he said.

"All the summer work is building up to the Hearts game so I am delighted that it is so close now.

"Even though we played a couple of glamour games against Blackburn and Newcastle they are still nowhere near the same as the real thing.

"When we walk out against Hearts that will be the real stuff beginning again and we hope that at the end of it we will have something to show for it."

Taken from the Scotsman

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