Manila: Having netted the 34th and 35th goals of his AFC Cup career in the Matchday Three win over Indonesia's Bali United, Ceres Negros striker Bienvenido Marañón expressed his joy at becoming the tournament's all-time leading goalscorer.
It may not have been his most stunning goal, but Marañón's close-range header to put Ceres Negros 3-0 up over Bali United last week proved to be a milestone strike.
It took the Spaniard past Jordanian Mahmoud Shelbaieh's record which has stood since February 2015. The-AFC.com caught up exclusively with the Ceres No 7 to reflect on his achievement.
See also :
AFC Cup: Marañón leads all-time top scorers
Group G: Ceres Negros FC turn on the style against Bali United FC
Yangon United's Than Paing 'thrilled' at first AFC Cup goal
Hi Bienvenido, congratulations on 35 goals so far in the AFC Cup! That's more than anyone since the tournament started in 2004. How do you feel?
I feel very happy, especially since the hard work I put in every day is reflected and rewarded with these kind of accolades. It is an honour for me to have achieved this.
What is the secret of your success in the AFC Cup? What is it about this tournament that has just clicked for you?
Well, I just think the AFC Cup is a great tournament because the best teams from each country enter and give their all to try and achieve success.
For us at Ceres, it is our favorite competition because it is where the level of each team is demonstrated regardless of the league in which they play. In these matches you can really see the measure of each club.
Thanks to God and all the work we put in at training we're able to show we're one of the best teams in Southeast Asia. It is not easy to keep that mantle for so many years in a row.
I imagine you can't remember all 35 of your goals, but are there some that stand out for you?
Sure! The goals I scored away at Johor Darul T'azim (2017) and Persija Jakarta (2019) particularly stand out. The opposition involved, the quality of the goals and above all playing as the away side.
I'd also add the one I scored in Yangon during the 2018 ASEAN Zonal semi-finals because of how it important it was.
Oh, and of course in the same tie but the home leg [a floated lob from an angle over the stranded goalkeeper] as that was a really beautiful goal.
Do you set yourself a target tally of goals at the beginning of each season?
No, my goal each season is simply to take care of myself as much as possible, train hard, eat well and do a lot of gym work to prevent injuries. Thanks to this and my experiences, I feel better every year and I enjoy every season more and more.
When you decided to come to the Philippines in 2015, did you ever imagine that you would achieve such success?
No! I never imagined this success that I am having and above all this growth, both myself individually and Ceres as a team.
Personally, I feel I have earned the respect of my peers, while Ceres have grown in recent years and become among the best clubs in Southeast Asia.
What are the aims for for this year's competition? Do you have your eyes on hitting the 40 goal-mark, or perhaps on winning the AFC Cup?
Well, my personal goals are to continue enjoying each game as I am doing and if it can be accompanied by goals, so much the better.
But I always put the interests of the team before my own, so if we manage to win games I wouldn't mind not scoring! Enjoying each game is more important.
For the team specifically, the objective is to go game by game and not set a long-term goal. For now, we are going to enjoy that big victory against Bali United for a few days, and next week we'll think about the next game and prepare for it.
Because we are the best Southeast Asian team it is nice to defend this every game we play. No pressure, we just take it as a nice challenge and we really enjoy it.
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