ABU DHABI - Globetrotter Mauricio Molina, who has helped South Korea's Seongnam to reach a Club World Cup semi-final against Inter Milan, is a pioneer as a Colombian at the top of Asian football.
"Mao" Molina, who helped Colombia to win the Copa America for the first time on home soil in 2001 as a 21-year-old, has ended up in South Korea after a career spanning nine previous clubs on four continents.
"This is a summit in my career, to be at the Club World Cup," the attacking midfielder, the second highest scorer in the Asian Champions League this year, told Reuters.
"I was a champion with my country in the Copa America but this is a World Cup and it would be incredible to win it," he said after Seongnam beat hosts al-Wahda 4-1 to set up their clash with the European champions.
Molina scored the opening goal in the fourth minute and his skills with the dead ball, first with a corner and later a free kick, set up two more in the victory at Zayed Sports City stadium on Saturday.
Seongnam return to the same venue on Wednesday to meet Inter, who Molina said were "one of the best teams in the world, but we have to believe was can surprise them."
Winning the Asian club title was a step further than Molina managed in 2003 with Independiente Medellin of Colombia who were Libertadores Cup semi-finalists.
Molina, who played for al-Ain in the United Arab Emirates in 2004, said he had settled well in South Korea and was enjoying his football more than he had for some time, averaging almost a goal every two games for Seongnam in the K-League.
"I'm very happy there, my family is comfortable, I like the culture and I hope to stay a good while," said Molina, who has also played for clubs in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Mexico and Serbia.
He has been out of the reckoning for Colombia for some years but hopes to get a call from coach Hernan Gomez who is preparing a squad for the Copa America in Argentina in July.
"I haven't had a call for the national team for some time, I don't know what the set-up is like now but, obviously, you don't lose your hopes," he said.
"I feel good in Asia, I've reached a new maturity and to get to the Club World Cup is a way of showing what I can still do."comments