On Monday, Apollon Limassol FC confirmed that he has inked a one-year deal with the club, who finished sixth in the Cypriot League last season but won the domestic cup, which puts it into the final qualifyin rounds of the Europa League.
Haber made his national team debut in May, as he came on as a second-half sub in Edmonton as Canada lost to Costa Rica. A former Cornell University standout, Haber signed with Israeli giants Maccabi Haifa in January, where he scored twice in just four games of action.
Haifa was interested in bringing Haber back, but the forward decided that he’d get the chance for more playing time in Cyprus.
“Maccabi was interested in re-signing me, but because I’m a Jewish player, they wanted me to make aliyah, that is, to get my citizenship,” said Haber in an interview last week from Toronto, just before he left for Cyprus. “That way I wouldn’t have taken up a foreign-player spot. But, at this stage, I still want to be a Canadian citizen only. If I remained a foreign player, they were still interested in signing me and loaning me out. When we were talking about this, my agent found out about the opportunity to play for Apollon, he alerted me to the interest in Cyprus.
“Playing a lot of minutes is the most important thing to me at this stage of my career. I really liked playing in Israel. But I didn’t just go there because I am a Jewish player who wanted to live in Israel. I went to Maccabi Haifa because it is a big club. But because it’ s a big club, they bring in a lot of top players and it will be hard to get playing time. Apollon is really a perfect situation for me. They finished sixth last year, which means they have a strong core of players, but will be hungry to improve, so there will be opportunities for players like myself.”
Haber’s name is on the long list of 35 players Canada has named as being eligible for Gold Cup selection. But, with Apollon having Europa League qualifying games in the coming weeks, and Haber needing to make an impression with his new club in July, it could create a conflict. If Haber would be named, it would make for a delicate negotiation for technical director Tony Fonseca and coach Colin Miller.
But Haber said the opportunity to wear the Canadian national jersey was something very special.
“A couple of months before the call came I was talking to friends and they were asking if I’d ever get called to the national team. And I said maybe, if I can play somewhere regularly, in a couple of years I’d get selected. And then the call came. And there were other players in camp in the same situation as me (never played for Canada) and they didn’t get into the game. When I got to play the final 15 minutes, I felt that I was helping the team, but also that it was a reward for doing well in camp. And when I stepped on the field… what a moment.
“I have the feeling that they (Canada) have a core of players that they are looking at right now. But I hope that I made an impression that I can be called back to the national team in the future.”
But, for now, Haber needs minutes and playing time in Europe. Apollon offers that chance.
Free agent Haber hopes strong national-team camp will help his job prospects (CLICK)