Makassar: Marc Klok insists that PSM Makassar’s target from the start to the 2019 AFC Cup was to end the campaign as Continental champions, as the Indonesian side prepare to travel to Vietnam’s Becamex Binh Duong for the first leg of the ASEAN Zonal semi-finals on Wednesday.
Making their debut appearance in the tournament, Makassar won four and drew two of their Group H games to advance as table-toppers and, in doing so, netted 17 goals along the way – a tally only Hanoi FC have bettered in this year’s competition.
Netherlands-born midfielder Klok was instrumental in his side’s success, with his two goals against last year’s ASEAN Zonal champions Home United of Singapore paving the way for a crucial come-from-behind 3-2 win and ultimately qualification to the knockout rounds.
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“The victory against Home United gave us a lot of belief because being 2-0 down and still being able to win was a huge boost to our confidence,” admitted 26-year-old Klok, who joined Makassar in 2017.
“We proved to ourselves that we were capable of producing such a result but also that, no matter what, we should never give up.
“The target before the competition was to become group winners and then champions, so our aim has not changed.”
Makassar were they only team to progress to the ASEAN Zonal semi-finals with their unbeaten record still intact as they became the second Indonesian team in successive years to reach the knockout stages.
In 2018, Persija Jakarta advanced before being eliminated by Home United, while this year it was defeat in the group stage to Binh Duong that ended the capital team's campaign.
The Vietnamese side will go into the match full of confidence, meanwhile, after winning their last four games on the Continent to secure their spot among the region’s best four teams as the highest-placed runner-up.
“Regardless of our undefeated record, I believe we were already a force to be reckoned with and, although it’s a nice achievement, we have a long way to go to prove ourselves,” admitted Klok.
“I am very much looking forward to the Binh Duong match – it’s a new country, a new team and the semi-finals. We will be looking for a clean sheet and a win in Vietnam.
“We want to do well for our country and put Indonesia on the map again, and I really believe we can do that. The only thing on our minds is to reach the final and win it.”
In what has been an excellent 2019 so far for Klok, he was also recently called up to the Indonesia squad ahead of their friendly Jordan, with the midfielder eligible to play for the Garuda as his great grandfather was born in Makassar.
“One word: amazing! As a football player the national team is the highest possible thing to achieve and, in a country with so many people and good football players, it’s an honor," added Klok.
“I feel blessed to be part of the national team. And I am really looking forward for the upcoming FIFA World Cup qualifiers and the bright future ahead.”
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