–Dynamo Kyiv of Ukraine’s Nigerian midfielder opens up…
One of the greatest offensive players from Nigerian shores, Lukman Abdulkarim Haruna is yet to fulfil his full potentials with the Nigerian national team. A product of the country’s youth teams without any appreciable success, Haruna was dropped from the Super Eagles provisional squad to Brazil 2014 and the former Monaco star cannot hide his(Haruna) feelings as he discloses in this interview…
DISCOVERY FOR THE MUNDIAL
I(Haruna) believe my form for Monaco then did the magic, even if I was a bit part player in the team under coach Amodu Shuaib.
I think I scored three goals for Monaco that year, heading to the World Cup having played for the U-20 team the previous year.
The rest is history, I played two games at the World Cup in South Africa and it’s unfortunate I won’t be in Brazil as I have not been listed in the provisional squad.
Struggling to pick one now as I have many fond memories with the senior national team.
Well, I suppose it’s lining out against Lionel Messi who was then the World player of the Year in 2010.
I think he also became the inaugural winner of the Fifa Ballon d’Or that same year.
So playing against him was memorable but not winning that encounter was so sad.
Also, I didn’t expect to make the squad because I didn’t play for the team during the qualifiers but it was great to make history playing at all FIFA grade tournaments. I cherish that so much as well.
Not qualifying from the group despite having the chance to in our final game against South Korea in 2010.
The second game against Greece also had a rather sad ending. Until the sending-off, we had the game under control.
I remember we tried to hold out for a draw but we lost.
REASONS FOR NOT PLAYING
I really don’t know why but it’s in the past now. The coach then (Lars Lagerback) had other plans which didn’t include me.
People not forgiving me for my wrongful past. I’m mature now and have begun a new phase in my football life.
It hurts me and I urge everybody to forgive and forget.
MOST DIFFICULT OPPONENT
Juan Veron was one opponent I watched as a kid and playing against him was a wonderful experience for me.
He was the brain box of the Argentine squad because he always found Lionel Messi with his pass which we were unable to handle during that game.
That’s one player I remember at the moment.
LARS LAGERBACK INFLUENCE
Yes,in a way it affected me because firing the manager after the World Cup meant some players would leave and some will get in so it wasn’t easy for the team.
We had worked with him for one month and we did have ups and downs. A few players like me came in obviously because of Lagerback, so to them it was not an easy period.
That’s football and you have to manage it. You can complain a little bit while we suffer changing managers. I just hope I get a chance someday again.
I think Stephen Keshi has done a great job with the Super Eagles.
It was against South Korea. I cried out my eyes as we couldn’t defeat the Koreans, I couldn’t believe we didn’t win.
Prayers have always been my strength and I don’t play a match without praying first.
BIGGEST LESSON LEARNT
Taking chances in the team was the biggest lesson I ever learnt
WORLD CUP SACRIFICES
That was my first big season in Europe since joining Monaco, so staying with my family during the summer was one call I had to make to the detriment of my family.
They are all rumours, although they have won the Europa league because they are a great side and so many reports will link players to the team.
I just want to enjoy my break and see what the future holds.
WORLD CUP EXCLUSION
Obviously, it wasn’t my decision, it’s up to the coach. I’ve got plenty more years to go.
It’s painful no doubt but I take it in good faith. My advice to others excluded is to support the team all the way. 2018 is around the corner and I hope I make it to Russia.
CHANCES OF THE PRESENT TEAM
The opening game against Iran gives them a great chance of qualifying because our first match is the first final. The Eagles must put everything on the line.
It will give the team enough motivation to battle Bosnia and qualify. Football is the main sport in our nation, so the expectations are high. We aim to fulfil those expectations. The benchmark is already high before he came but I think it’s even higher now. It’s not just about winning but also playing well; with style which the Eagles have shown they are capable of. I think we have a good team, but it’s going to be difficult for them, but I want them to make it – I want them to top the group.We have good players,if they go there and work hard they will make it… even to the final. I pray so!
WORLD CUP GAINS
I got better offers at club level after making the 2010 World Cup squad but don’t ask me how much I got from those
moves. (Laughs). The memories that come with it are enough gains for a lifetime.
LIFE AFTER SOCCER
Life after soccer ke! When I’m just 24? Football starts now for me Johnny let me celebrate with my friends.
We just won the Ukrainian Cup, my first ever medal in European football.