Even the world’s biggest football stars can’t match the recent performance of Norway’s Erling Braut Haaland as a highly praised member of the country’s men’s national football team. It all but crushed Gibraltar’s team in the lastest World Cup qualifier, with Haaland scoring three of Norway’s five goals.
“The numbers speak for themselves,” team captain Martin Ødegaard, also a highly regarded young player, told reporters after Tuesday night’s match that kept Norway in the running for World Cup action. Ødegaard was referring to how Haaland has now scored 12 goals in 15 matches. That’s better than, for example, Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo, who didn’t score 12 goals in national team matches until their 36th and 34th respectively.
“It’s absolutely crazy,” Ødegaard continued. “We’re lucky to have him, and just have to take off our hats to him.” Norway’s head coach Ståle Solbakken noted that Haaland “is on his way to something historic, but I’m most glad for the responsibility he’s taken on in the group here, when it’s important to remember that he’s playing for Norway and we don’t have everything Dortmund (the club for which Haaland plays professionally) has in its tool box.”
Haaland himself declined most interviews after the match but told TV2 (which has broadcasting rights to the World Cup qualifiers) that he wasn’t overly pleased with himself. “I’m not scoring enough goals, but I’m getting closer,” Haaland said. “I think I should have more goals than matches.”
Norway’s next follow-up matches in its qualifying group will be against Turkey on October 8, followed by Montenegro on October 11, Latvia on November 13 and the Netherlands on November 16. Turkey and the Netherlands top the group at present and will present the greatest challenges for Norway.