Kuala Lumpur: Bienvenido Marañón's brace in Ceres Negros' 4-0 victory over Bali United on Wednesday not only helped the Filipino side to three points, it also saw the Spaniard leapfrog Jordanian Mahmoud Shelbaieh to become the competition's all-time leading scorer on 35 goals.
Having begun the 2020 tournament on 30 goals, last year's top scorer wasted no time in picking up where he left off, with two goals in an opening-day victory over Cambodia's Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng FC, before a penalty against Vietnam's Than Quang Ninh saw him move within a goal of former Al Wehdat striker Shelbaieh.
Marañón's double against Bali saw the prolific striker move into pole position and there will likely be many more to follow if he continues in this form. The-AFC.com looks back at his achievement, as well as those of the iconic AFC Cup scorers who the 33-year-old has overtaken in recent years.
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Bienvenido Marañón – 35 Goals
Two goals in his － and Ceres' － debut campaign in 2016 gave little indication of what was to follow, but the man from Cadiz was firing on all cylinders a year later, netting eight times as the Filipino side were crowned ASEAN Zonal champions before ultimately exiting in the Inter-Zone semi-finals.
By 2018, Marañón was among the most feared strikers in the AFC Cup and, although Ceres fell at the ASEAN Zonal final, for which the Spaniard was suspended, he bettered his previous best with 10 goals, finishing joint second in the scoring charts.
Last season was Ceres' most disappointing for some time as they were eliminated at the ASEAN Zonal semi-finals, but another 10-goal haul saw Marañón claim the top scorer accolade for the first time. Already with five goals to his name in 2020, he may well be eyeing the 40-goal mark.
Mahmoud Shelbaieh – 34 Goals
Shelbaieh’s club career was synonymous with Amman giants Al Wehdat who he represented for 15 years, racking up over 130 goals in the green shirt.
Between 2006 and 2012, Al Wehdat and Shelbaieh competed in every edition of the AFC Cup, and the forward holds the distinction of scoring in each of the seven campaigns, a run unmatched by any other player in the competition’s history.
The Jordanian striker was crowned the 2006 AFC Cup top goalscorer with eight goals, and by the time he left the club for a spell abroad with Bahrain’s East Riffa, he had amassed 34 AFC Cup goals, a record that stood until March 2020.
Amjad Radhi – 32 Goals
Amjad Radhi is another player who has enjoyed considerable success in the AFC Cup and, had it not been for Iraqi clubs being elevated to the AFC Champions League from 2019 onwards, he may well be out in front by now.
The Air Force Club striker boasts 32 goals to his name and won three successive titles between 2016 and 2018; however, Radhi's best scoring form in the competition came with Arbil in 2012 when he netted nine to finish as top scorer, only for his side to wind up runners-up.
In 2014, Radhi reached another final with Arbil but, despite the now 29-year-old scoring from the spot, his team lost on penalties. With three titles, five final appearances and 32 goals to his name, the man from Baghdad is undoubtedly one of the most successful players the competition has ever seen.
Aleksandar Duric – 32 Goals
Iconic Singaporean striker Aleksandar Duric represented, and scored for, three different clubs in the AFC Cup, starting with Geylang United in the inaugural edition in 2004 when he netted five en route to a semi-final finish.
Duric added more goals in 2007 and 2008 as he helped Singapore Armed Forces twice advance to the quarter-finals, before he returned with Tampines Rovers in 2011, scoring in five out of six group stage games as the Singaporean team progressed to the last 16.
The striker added further goals in the 2012, 2013 and 2014 group stages but Tampines failed to advance on each occasion. His 32nd and final AFC Cup goal came in a 5-2 victory over India's Pune FC on April 1, 2014 at the age of 43.
Bader Al Mutawa – 30 Goals
Kuwait legend Bader Al Mutawa was the talisman of the Qadsia SC side that reached the AFC Cup final three times between 2010 and 2015, winning the title in 2014 to end years of near misses.
In that spell, the forward racked up 28 goals, but a FIFA ban on Kuwait prevented him adding more for several years thereafter, before sides from the Gulf state returned to AFC Cup action in 2019.
Al Mutawa hit the 30-goal mark with a double in a win over Bahrain's Malkiya, but Al Qadsia exited at the group stage. However, with the Kuwaiti team back in the competition once more this year, the 35-year-old remains one of the few players with a realistic chance of catching Maranon in the near future.
Rico – 30 Goals
Level with Al Mutawa, Brazilian Rico's first introduction to the AFC Cup was in 2006 when he finished one behind Al Shelbaieh in the scoring charts, with his seven goals helping Bahrain's Al Muharraq reach the final.
Rico and his team went one better in 2008, Al Muharraq lifting the trophy as the Brazilian delivered a record-breaking season, with his 19 goals in that campaign more than double his nearest chaser in the scoring race.
Seven years on, Rico scored his 30th and last AFC Cup goal. This time he was in Al Hidd colours in a 1-1 draw with Al Jazeera. At 37 years of age, he finally returned to Brazil in 2017 to play for Portuguesa.
The Chasing Pack
Veteran Maldivian striker Ali Ashfaq may well hit the 30-goal mark this season as the 34-year-old, currently on 29, returns with tournament debutants TC Sports, having previously been amongst the goals for Club Valencia, VB Sports Club and New Radiant.
Rogerinho was an integral member of the Kuwait SC side that won three AFC Cups between 2009 and 2013, scoring in both the 2012 and 2013 finals. The Brazilian boasts 27 AFC Cup goals and sits eighth in the scoring charts.
Lebanese striker Mohamad Ghaddar was the 2007 AFC Cup top scorer while playing for Nejmeh SC. Five years later, he came close, finishing second with eight goals, just one behind Radhi, as he helped Malaysia’s Kelantan reach the quarter-finals. In total Ghaddar netted 26 goals over five AFC Cup campaigns.
Rounding off the list is Air Force Club captain Hammadi Ahmed, who won the top scorer award in 2016 with 16 goals, before adding two more in an injury-hit 2017 campaign. The Iraqi side won an unprecedented third successive title in 2018 and Ahmed － who scored in the final for the second time － added a further eight goals to take his tally to 26 AFC Cup goals in three glorious seasons.
Now you've reviewed the feats of the most prolific scorers in the AFC Cup's history, tell us who your number one striker is by casting your vote in the poll below (Poll ends at 16:00 (UTC +8) on March 20).
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