Hansen sweeps all before him

Hansen sweeps all before him
  • Dutch forward Sontje Hansen scored a hat-trick against Nigeria
  • His goals have taken the Netherlands into the quarter-finals
  • Hansen is now the tournament’s top scorer with five goals

Beaten 3-0 by Japan and 3-1 by Senegal in their opening two matches, the Netherlands were on the verge of elimination from the . Such was the position they were in that not even a win over USA in their final group match would guarantee them a place in the Round of 16. Something clearly had to change.

"I started the tournament on the right wing and it didn’t really work. I ended up getting taken off in our second match," Oranje forward Sontje Hansen told FIFA.com. "Then I got a second chance, against USA, this time at centre-forward. It doesn’t seem to be going too badly either."

Hansen is right to say that, having been an inspirational presence for the Dutch in their last two outings. With two goals and an assist against USA, the No7 helped the Dutch into the last 16, where, three days later, he struck a hat-trick against Nigeria in Goiania to sweep his side into the quarter-finals.

"I’m doing what I’ve been asked to do," said the Ajax player. "It’s a centre-forward’s job to score goals. I’ve done that and it’s helped the team. These two wins are just as much down to the other 20 players as they are to me. I’m scoring goals because they’re putting me in the right positions."

There is more to the modest Hansen’s scoring streak than the help of his team-mates, namely his pace, skill, two-footedness (he has scored two of his five goals with his left and the remaining three with his right), and his nose for goal. It is a potent combination that has taken him to the top of the scoring charts at Brazil 2019.

"That doesn’t really matter to me," he said. "I’m not going for any individual award. The only trophy I’m interested in is the World Cup."

Hansen aiming high

The Dutch are now three games away from lifting it, three matches for Hansen to continue showcasing his scoring skills and his goal celebrations. While those celebrations have been relatively restrained in Brazil, that is not usually the case with the Netherlands forward, who likes to get acrobatic after finding the back of the net.

“We haven’t gone far enough in the tournament for that yet,” he smiled. “I need there to be more fans too. I’ll save it for the semi-finals and the final. The crowds have to be bigger because that’s what my somersaults deserve.”