ASEAN football has produced its fair share of legendary players but, expectedly, the most famous ones are inevitably the ones who score the goals.
Given the amount of matches played in Asia, and the disparity between the giants and the minnows – especially in the past – it is no surprise that strikers in the continent lead the international scoring charts.
For example, Iran’s Ali Daei holds the record for most international goals with 109 in 149 caps, which is remarkably 25 more than the legendary Ferenc Puskas achieved for Hungary.
Other Asians in the world’s top ten include Kunishige Kamamoto of Japan (80 goals in 84 caps), Iraq’s Hussein Saeed (78 goals in 137 caps) and Saudi Arabian Majeed Abdullah (71 goals in 116 caps).
Note that this involves a ranking of all-time top scorers by country and not an overall list, meaning some nations’ second-highest scorer could have scored more than another’s leading scorer but are not included in the conversation.
So, just where do ASEAN’s most-prolific scorers stand among the best? FOX Sports Asia brings you the top five based on official records.
5) Bambang Pamungkas (Indonesia) – 38 goals in 86 caps
Even four defenders couldn’t stop Bambang back then
World ranking: Joint-62nd
Asian ranking: 18th
As expected, Bambang Pamungkas’ name pops up on this list. The surprise is that he ‘only’ scored 38 goals for Indonesia, given how prolific and deadly he was at his peak.
After breaking onto the scene as a teenager, Bambang even had a brief spell in Netherlands but is best remembered for his time at Persija Jakarta and Selangor.
Now 37, the Semarang native has lost none of his predatory instincts and even notched five goals for Persija in the recently-concluded Indonesia Liga 1 season.
Unless he reverses on his international retirement from 2012, Bambang can no longer add to his 38 goals but it is still a tally that is three more than the Romanian record held by Gheorghe Hagi and Adrian Mutu.
4) Phil Younghusband (Philippines) – 47 goals in 92 caps
The younger Younghusband brother is now banging in the goals for Davao Aguilas
World ranking: Joint-45th
Asian ranking: 13th
The only player in our top five that is still active, it’s remarkable to think that Phil Younghusband is only 30 and could comfortably add plenty more to his 47 goals for Philippines.
He may now find himself increasingly deployed as a withdrawn attacker and even spent time at last year’s AFF Suzuki Cup playing in the heart of midfield, but that has not stopped him from hitting the back of the net.
Curiously, for someone who came through the ranks of Chelsea, he is only one goal behind a famous name who did not have the best of times at Stamford Bridge: a certain Andriy Shevchenko, who is Ukraine’s all-time top scorer with 48 goals.
With the Azkals on the verge of qualifying for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, Younghusband could soon be climbing up the rankings on Asia’s biggest stage of all.
3) Le Cong Vinh (Vietnam) – 51 goals in 83 caps
Captaining his country against the mighty Japan
World ranking: 34th
Asian ranking: 11th
We all know Le Cong Vinh was good. But just how good?
Well, for one, his 51 goals for Vietnam puts him level with France legend Thierry Henry and current Poland star Robert Lewandowski.
But, more than just his obvious ability to hit the target, Cong Vinh also was the man for the big occasion and memorably scored the goal that won Vietnam their first and only AFF crown till date.
Despite still only being 31, it has been a year since Cong Vinh hung up his boots but it will take something – or someone – special to beat his record.
2) Fandi Ahmad (Singapore) – 55 goals in 101 caps
Fandi getting recognised by the Asian Football Confederation in 2001
World ranking: Joint-26th
Asian ranking: 9th
A Singaporean legend who would be known around the region, Fandi Ahmad was one of Southeast Asia’s most-complete attackers that had a penchant for the spectacular.
His goals earned him a move to Dutch side Groningen and he memorably scored against Italian giants Inter Milan in the UEFA Cup (now known as the Europa League).
Fandi’s international tally of 55 goals is just one less than Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o and, impressively, two more than the 53 Wayne Rooney scored for England.
Interestingly enough, Fandi has four sons and two of them are already full Singapore international. What a story it would make if one of them is to be the one who one day betters his record.
1) Kiatisuk Senamuang (Thailand) – 71 goals in 134 caps
13 was certainly an unlucky number for Kiatisuk’s opponents
World ranking: Joint-9th
Asian ranking: Joint-5th
Top five in Asia and top 10 in the world, it could only be Kiatisuk Senamuang.
In his prime, the skilful dribbler and deadly finisher could destroy any defender in Asia and he is not only revered in Thailand, but also well remembered in Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam, where he had stints in as a foreigner.
With 71 goals in 134 caps means he scored more than once every other game and sees him level on the all-time list with FIFA World Cup record scorer Miroslav Klose, and more than Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Lionel Messi, David Villa… the list goes on.
Kiatisuk also enjoyed success as Thailand coach and, while his reign may have ended in unceremonious circumstances earlier this year, it has done little to tarnish the glowing reputation he enjoys in the country till this day.
Mokhtar Dahari (Malaysia)
Affectionately known as ‘SuperMokh’ to Malaysian fans, the late Mokhtar Dahari is arguably the greatest player the country has ever produced.
Unfortunately, due to a lack of proper documentation back in the 70s and 80s, as well as a many international games being unofficial matches back then, Mokhtar’s record for Malaysia is not officially recognised.
But unofficially, the tally stands at a remarkable 96 goals in 125 caps, which would actually put him second in the world.
The legendary ‘SuperMokh’ may have passed away in 1991 but his legacy lives on with even a highway named after him, as well as a theatre show based on his career.
Hok Sochetra (Cambodia)
Like Mokhtar, there is no way of really knowing just how many goals Hok Sochetra scored for Cambodia, although the unofficial tally is 42, which would put him above illustrious names like Alexis Sanchez (39) and Romelu Lukaku (31).
Still, in the mid to late 90s, he was regularly mentioned in the same breath as your Kiatisuks and Huynh Ducs, and was named Southeast Asia’s best player in 1997.
The likes of Chan Vathanaka, Prak Mony Udom and Keo Sokpheng may be garnering the headlines these days, but it was Sochetra who led the way almost two decades ago.