Prolific scorer Marañon’s dream of being an Azkal nearing reality
Spanish striker Bienvenido Marañon arrived in the Philippines five years ago, thinking his move to Bacolod-based club Ceres-Negros was just another stop to what was an unremarkable career that started in the lower leagues in Spain.
Little did he know that he would build one of the most impressive campaigns for a foreigner in the Philippines’ growing football scene and fall in love with the country he would now love to represent at international tournaments.
Just on Wednesday, Marañon broke the scoring record in Asia’s second-tier club competition—the AFC Cup—after knocking in goal No. 35 against Bali United at Rizal Memorial Stadium.The record is impressive as Ceres has to qualify for AFC Cup by winning the Philippines Football League. And even with the changes in the squad and the improved level in the competition, Marañon has somehow kept his lethal form going in the last four years.
But while scoring goals for Ceres in continental tournaments have become a habit for Marañon, the 33-year-old would love nothing more than to don the Philippine jersey in the future. Ceres teammates like Stephan Schrock and Manny Ott are part of the Azkals team.A Senate bill seeking to grant Marañon Filipino citizenship was filed by Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri recently. A separate bill was also filed for the same purpose for Ceres’ Senegalese striker Robert Lopez Mendy, who is married to a Filipino.
“I know it’s a long process, but if I could have a Filipino passport tomorrow, I would love to play for the Azkals,” said Marañon, who earned the moniker “El Gubernador” when he arrived in the country as he had the same family name as then Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon.
“I feel better than ever. Physically, I think I’m in my best shape and I feel I still have many good years ahead of me. I want to help Philippine football because it has also helped me in improving my life.”
National team defender Carlie de Murga, who grew up in Cadiz, Spain, just like Marañon, was responsible for recruiting the striker to Ceres.
Marañon’s stock grew over the last three years following his goal scoring exploits with Ceres, prompting top clubs like Johor Darul Ta’zim of Malaysia to pursue his services. But the Spanish striker chose to stay with Ceres, which is named after the flagship bus line of the biggest bus company in the country.“My dream is to play for the Philippines,” he added. INQ