Player Profile: Lukman Haruna (Nigeria)

8 Jun

Cameroon shocked the world with their brand of swashbuckling, aggressive football in  Italia ’90. They defeated the then World Cup holders Argentina, plus Romania and Colombia on the way to a 3-2 Extra Time defeat to England in the Quarter Finals. The Cameroon team seemingly came out of nowhere and it’s very likely that the opposition coaches of Argentina didn’t even possess a coaching report for the side, that is despite ten of the Cameroon squad playing at a decent level in France at the time.

These days the proliferation of TV, Youtube and the movement of players between countries and continents even at very young ages means that we head into World Cups with very few unanswered questions. North Korean’s secretive squad aside, we know a lot about the players who will be competing at the World Cup. In a lot of cases we probably know a little too much (Yes, I’m thinking of John Terry here).

However, when Nigeria begin their World Cup campaign, Monaco midfielder, Lukman Haruna may have the benefit of the unknown, or at the very least a bizarre claim to fame. The story goes a little something like this. For their preparations for this summer’s tournament Nigeria arranged a friendly with Colombia at Upton Park, however when that fell through the game was switched to Luton Town’s Kenilworth Road. A few days later this match in a typical Nigerian FA shambles was also cancelled and the game moved once more, this time to it’s final destination: Milton Keynes.

Due to the late booking of the game it had to be played behind closed doors, so the two sides had to play one another in near silence, only the yells from team managers breaking the silence. Surely a wise old bod from the Nigerian coaching staff should have insisted on the sound of vuvuzelas pumping out through the tannoy system in an attempt to replicate South African conditions?

The game ended in 1-1 draw, Colombia taking an early lead through a terrific volley before Nigeria equalised late on. The goal was scored by Haruna who was making only his third appearance for the Golden Eagles. It was also his first international goal for Nigeria so Haruna has the dubious, yet almost unique honour (he shares it with Colombian goalscorer Valdes) of no-one being in attendance to see any of the international goals in his career so far.

Haruna captained the Nigerian side that won the FIFA World Cup U17 Championships in South Korea in 2007. Three years on and he’s making the journey to Africa’s first World Cup hoping to emulate some of the success he’s experienced at youth level with Nigeria. Jon Obi Mikel’s unfortunate withdrawal from the squad and the centre of the Nigerian midfield may just give Haruna the opportunity to emulate his scoring exploits at an empty Milton Keynes Stadium on the World’s biggest stage – and a few more may be watching.

The stealth-like Lukman Haruna

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2 Responses to “Player Profile: Lukman Haruna (Nigeria)”

  1. Lanterne Rouge June 24, 2010 at 10:12 pm #

    I really liked the look of this fella in Nigeria’s defeat against Aregentina – similar in style to Ghana’s Anthony Annan but with less illustrious compatriots. One to watch for sure.

  2. Steven June 25, 2010 at 11:01 pm #

    When I wrote the player profile I didn’t expect him to play. But when I saw him like you I was impressed. He’s still got time on his side so it’ll be interesting to see how he gets on.

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