10 Candidates for #ACL2020 Top Scorer
Kuala Lumpur: As the 32 sides get set to battle it out for the title of Asia's club kings from February 10, goals will be the most valuable currency. The-AFC.com looks at 10 target men who will have eyes on becoming the 2020 AFC Champions League's most prolific.
Al Hilal's Baftembi Gomis earned himself the top scorer award in 2019 with 11 goals. But with several exciting attackers involved in this year's competition, the goals race is set to be even more heated.
Gomis returns but alongside him below are a selection of leading candidates who could take the mantle from the Frenchman in 2020.
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Baghdad Bounedjah - Al Sadd
Algerian striker Baghdad Bounedjah was in stunning form at the 2018 edition, netting 13 times and firing Al Sadd to the semi-finals. Although the 28-year-old wasn't able to repeat that prolific run on the Continent in 2019, he maintained his role as the focal point of the Wolves' attack.
And Bounedjah comes into the 2020 AFC Champions League in fine fettle, leading the scorers in the 2019-2020 Qatar Stars League with 13 goals from 13 matches.
Teruhito Nakagawa - Yokohama F. Marinos
Can Teruhito Nakagawa take an incredible 2019 into an even better 2020? The Yokoham F.Marinos star will certainly be hoping so after he signed off last year as J.League champion, MVP and joint Top Scorer.
Not only 15 goals to his name but nine assists after appearing in all but one of Marinos' 34 league game, Nakagawa formed a potent partnership with teammate Marco Junior. If they can replicate that on the Continental stage, the rest of the tournament should beware.
Cheick Diabate - Esteghlal
Cheick Diabate has already put Asia on notice after netting three times in two 2020 AFC Champions League qualifying matches and his little and large partnership with diminuitive IR Iran starlet Mehdi Ghayedi could be one of the most effective in this year's tournament.
The 6'4" Mali international spent much of his career in France with Bordeaux but also took in spells in Turkey and Italy before moving to Tehran giants Esteghlal in July. Currently among the top scorers in the Iran Pro League, Diabate is sure to be a handful for any defence at ACL2020.
Adam Taggart - Suwon Samsung Bluewings
Adam Taggart became the first Australian to win the K League Golden Boot, netting 20 times in 33 games for Suwon Samsung Bluewings. The Perth native's stunning return is put into even greater perspective as it was his first season abroad in Asia, and as the focal point of a team that was enduring a difficult season.
A penalty box predator, the 26-year-old is aided and abetted by countryman Terry Antonis and evergreen veteran Yeom Ki-hun. His form on the Continent will be a key factor should Suwon want to go deep into the 2020 AFC Champions League knockout stages.
Kodjo Laba - Al Ain
Togo striker Kodjo Laba has been a revelation since joining Al Ain from Moroccan side RS Berkane in what is his first foray into Asian football, and he is currently out in front in the UAE Pro League scoring charts.
Only one team scored fewer than Al Ain's four in last season's AFC Champions League, but with Laba so far proving to be an astute signing, they go into the group stage boasting one of the most in-form strikers on the Continent.
Talisca - Guangzhou Evergrande
Ever wondered how Anderson Souza Conceição became Anderson Talisca? 🤔— #ACL2020 (@TheAFCCL) September 30, 2019
The Guangzhou Evergrande star reveals the answer as well as his thoughts 💭 on #ACL2019, and his injury comeback 🤕#URAvGUA | Semi-Finals | #ACL2019 pic.twitter.com/KZmDyHcPaz
Talisca’s 2019 campaign was curtailed by injury, after he had scored four goals in his first three AFC Champions League games; however, he returned to net the winner in the quarter-finals to eliminate defending champions Kashima Antlers.
Powerful, pacey and good in the air, the former Benfica and Besiktas attacking midfielder stands out not only because of his bleached-blond hair, but also due to his talents on the pitch.
Omar Al Soma - Al Ahli Saudi
One of the best all-round strikers in the Asian game, Omar Al Soma is a physical presence who is a genuine triple threat – adept in the air, deadly with the ball at his feet and a danger from set-pieces.
Al Soma has scored at a rate of roughly a goal a game since moving to Jeddah in 2014 and if he is firing on all cylinders in the 2020 AFC Champions League, Al Ahli could be a genuine threat for the title.
Adam Le Fondre - Sydney FC
Adam le Fondre's move from Bolton Wanderers in England's lower reaches to Sydney FC has been an unequivocal success as the striker's goals fired his new side to their fourth A-League Grand Final success in 2018-19.
Picking up where he left off, Le Fondre is leading the scoring charts in the current A-League season and will go into his maiden AFC Champions League campaign full of confidence.
Dragan Ceran - Pakhtakor
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Mart oyining eng chiroyli golini aniqlash maqsadida tashkil etilgan so'rovnomada “#Paxtakor” jamoasi to'purari Dragan Cheranning “#Lokomotiv” jamoasi darvozasiga kiritgan ikkinchi goli eng ko'p ovoz yig`di. Mazkur gol ikkinchi pog'onadan joy olgan Islom Kenjaboevning “So'g'diyona”ga urgan golidan 4 ochkogagina ilgarilab ketdi.
After joining Uzbek giants Pakhtakor in 2018, Dragan Ceran's goals last year helped the Tashkent side claim their first Uzbekistan Super League title since 2015 with his tally of 23 also earning him the top scorer accolade.
The Serbia-born striker was on the scoresheet in last year's AFC Champions League, but with Pakhtakor returning an even stronger outfit, he will look to add to his one goal and help fire his team into the knockout rounds.
Bafetimbi Gomis - Al Hilal
While the nine aforementioned boast strong striking credentials, all eyes will be on Al Hilal's Bafetimbi Gomis, who is aiming to become the first player to win back-to-back top scorer awards.
The 34-year-old is showing no sign on letting up, either. Gomis currently leads the Saudi Pro League scoring charts as his side look to add the domestic title while retaining their Continental crown later this year.
Who do you think will be the top scorer at #ACL2020? Vote below. Poll ends on Monday, February 10 at 18:00 (UTC +8).
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