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AFC Cup: 5 Players Who Shone This Week

Kuala Lumpur: The week that was in the 2020 AFC Cup witnessed some fantastic action with goals galore across the ASEAN, Central and South Zones, a record-breaking feat and two stunning Continental debuts among the highlights. 

With 29 goals in just nine matches, there were a number of fabulous performances and highlights five players who caught the eye in a thrilling couple of days.

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Bienvenido Marañón – The Record Breaker

While his performance may not have been particularly out of the ordinary, Bienvenido Marañón deserves his spot at the top of the list as the Spaniard secured his place in AFC Cup history.

The 33-year-old fired home a penalty early in the second half against Bali United to join former Al Wehdat striker Mahmoud Shelbaieh at the summit of the AFC Cup’s all-time leading scorers chart with 34 goals.

Just 15 minutes later and Marañón was out in front on his own as he headed in a Stephan Schrock delivery – there’s a combination you’ve seen before – for number 35.

Ceres won 4-0 and will be favourites to progress from Group G, while Marañón will surely add to his tally in the games ahead and move ever closer towards the 40-goal mark.

Hernan Barcos – The Prolific Pirate

Bashundhara Kings rode into the AFC Cup on the crest of a wave after the acquisition of a former Argentina international known as ‘El Pirata’.

At home against Maldivian side TC Sports Club, 35-year-old Hernan Barcos announced his arrival inside 20 minutes with a header that marked the Bangladeshi club’s first-ever AFC Cup goal.

The former Shanghai Shenhua man added another less than 10 minutes later and by the time Barcos side-footed a penalty into the bottom right corner, the Kings were sailing.

Barcos lofted home his fourth in stoppage time to complete a memorable debut as the striker gave himself plenty to live up to in the games ahead. 

Manuchekhr Dzhalilov – The Returning Hero

Manuchekhr Dzhalilov’s goals helped fire FC Istiklol to the 2017 AFC Cup final in a campaign that saw the Tajikistan striker named the tournament’s MVP.

Dzhalilov departed for Indonesia’s Liga 1 soon after, only to endure a difficult two seasons with Sriwijaya and Persebaya Surabaya, while Istiklol failed to make it beyond the group stage during his time away.

Group D: FC Istiklol 2-0 FC Khujand

Now 29, he returned to Dushanbe ahead of the 2020 AFC Cup and it came as no surprise that Dzhalilov inspired his side to an opening-day win over domestic rivals FC Khujand.

The Tajik international’s fine volley broke the deadlock after 20 minutes before he coolly dispatched a penalty shortly after. With their main man back home, we may well see Istiklol in the latter stages once more. 

Maung Maung Lwin – The Creative Force

The fact that Yangon United only managed to scrape a narrow 1-0 victory against Singapore’s Hougang United can be put solely down to wasteful finishing.

One man who can be absolved of any blame is Maung Maung Lwin, though, with the forward creating a whopping tournament-high nine chances for his teammates.

While the Myanmar National League side may need to work on their finishing in the month without AFC Cup action, they will know they have no such worries when it comes to creativity.

Maung Maung Lwin tops the overall standings in chances created (14) while he also boasts a joint-highest three assists and has even scored two goals for good measure. 

Anisur Rahman – The Wall

What’s the goalkeeping equivalent to a hat-trick debut? Perhaps ask Anisur Rahman, the Bashundhara Kings custodian who saved not one, but three penalties on his first-ever AFC Cup appearance.

Rahman dived left to thwart TC Sports Club’s Ismail Easa after 20 minutes but was unfortunate to see the midfielder then dispatch the rebound into the back of the net.

The pair faced off once more early in the second half, Rahman diving right to deny Easa once more. The referee, however, adjudged he had moved too soon and ordered a retake.

By now Rahman had the upper hand, though. This time Easa went left, only to see an outstretched Rahman produce a stunning third penalty save to leave his opponent stunned.

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