Erling Haaland connection acts as stark reminder of Molde quality for Hibs starlets
Producing arguably the best centre forward on the planet in Erling Haaland is proof enough of Molde’s threat to Hibs when the two sides meet tonight at Easter Road, insists academy director Steve Kean.
The Norwegian outfit travel to Leith for the second leg of the Uefa Youth League Domestic Champions Path first-round tie with a slender 1-0 advantage from the home leg.
It’s just four years since the two clubs met in first-team European action as Neil Lennon’s men sought to reach the group stages of the Europa League. Their bid came to a decisive end when Haaland, having only just turned 18, struck twice in the return leg to help Molde to a 3-0 win after a 0-0 draw in Edinburgh.
Since then the son of ex-Leeds United midfielder Alf Inge has reached stratospheric levels in the game, banging in goals for Red Bull Salzburg, Borussia Dortmund and now Manchester City in the top flight of English football.
His hat-trick in the 6-3 victory over rivals Manchester United at the weekend took his tally to an astounding 17 goals in 11 games since joining Pep Guardiola’s side in the summer.
Though there may not be a talent of Haaland’s calibre in the current Molde youth ranks, Kean insists their squad is still full of players who will be expected to make a name for themselves in the game.
Despite the threat he remains optimistic Hibs will be able to demonstrate their own quality in front of what should be a noisy atmosphere at the club’s home ground.
“They’ve got probably the best centre forward in the world at the moment who came through their ranks,” said Kean. “I think they’ve also got his young cousins somewhere in the academy.
“So they’ve got pedigree and they’ve got exceptional players who I’m sure you’ll see sold all over the world.
“But we want to make sure it’s about us and about our players being confident and really letting the fans see how they’ve developed at this stage in their careers. They’ve still got a long way to go but they’re making the right steps.”