15th June, 2010
Super Eagles and AC Monaco of France youngster, Haruna Lukman has finally revealed why he personally took on Argentinaâ€™s Lionel Messi during their opening match at the Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg.
Lukman, who made a name as the first Nigerian player to feature consecutively in the three FIFA World Cups, U-17 in South Korea 2007, U-20 last year in Egypat and the ongoing 2010 senior World Cup holding in South Africa, said he became uncomfortable when the Argentines turned the match into their show.
â€œI was unhappy seeing the Argentines playing the ball all alone at some point, so I decided to do an extra job by marking Messi, who was dribbling everyone. The Barcelona player is a good player no doubt, but I felt that our players were giving him too much room to operate.
â€œSo, I tried to close-mark him and later realised he is just a player like me. Ofcourse, I got the ball out of his legs but, I must confess, the Argentines played us hands down because we gave them enough space, especially Messi. He was all over the place, that was why I went after him,â€ Lukman told P.M.Sports.
The former youth international, however, believes that Nigeria would have to work extra hard to survive in the group. â€œWe are in a very difficult position on the table. We are third behind Greece and Argentina, so we have to work hard if Nigeria wants to play in the second round,â€ he said.