Genk striker Cyriel Dessers is eager to prove himself and fight his compatriot Paul Onuachu for regular playing time this season.
The 26-year-old was restricted to the role of a substitute in the 2020-21 campaign where he made just six starts in the Belgian First Division A but he managed a tally of seven goals, while Onuachu was John van den Brom’s first-choice striker.
During Genk’s league opener against Standard Liege on Friday night, Dessers was introduced as a 62nd-minute substitute for his compatriot and he went on to produce the assist that led to Theo Bongonda’s stoppage-time equaliser in the 1-1 draw.
With Onuachu’s future at the Luminus Arena uncertain amid reported interest from several European clubs, Dessers sees it as an opportunity for himself to make a statement ahead of the upcoming Champions League qualifiers against Shakhtar Donetsk.
"Paul had a fantastic season last season, everyone saw that,” Dessers told Sporza.
"Whether he will stay or not is the question for everyone, I also think for himself. All I can do is show in the minutes that I get, that I am ready when he leaves and that I can stand there.
"And I think I better show myself quickly, especially with the Champions League matches coming up. So that Genk also has the feeling that I'm there and they can give me the confidence."
The Super Eagles striker joined the Smurfs on a four-year deal from Dutch club Heracles last June and Friday's match came with an unusual atmosphere.
Dessers had a feel of Belgian fans in the stadium and he disclosed their presence spurred them on to grab a late point at the Stade Maurice Dufrasne.
"The release was great. And that is also due to the fact that there are supporters in the stadium again," he continued.
"Even if they are "enemy" supporters or they whistle us out for the entire match, that gives a very nice feeling with that equaliser.
"That gives an extra emotion, especially if you can still take a point in the last minute against Standard. That is also a very good feeling with an assist."