|Bienve Marañon's naturalization bid suddenly went stalled. PFL (file photo)|
MANILA—Philippine Football Federation president Nonong Araneta rued the apparent standoff in the naturalization bid of United City striker Bienve Marañon in hopes of bringing him into the Azkals lineup.
Marañon has undergone the naturalization process at around the same time as Ange Kouame.
However, only Kouame's naturalization has been given the nod by President Rodrigo Duterte through Republic Act 11543, and Marañon's case has been apparently stalled.
"It is unfortunate that Bienve wasn’t able to get his naturalization on the same day as Angelo as both of them went through the process together," Araneta said on Tuesday night. "We have been facing challenges in preparing the men’s national team for the remaining matches of the joint FIFA World Cup and AFC Asian Cup qualifiers in China starting June 3. We were hoping that the urgency of our situation would have made the process of Bienve's naturalization faster."
In spite of this setback, Araneta said that the PFF is keeping its hopes of having Bienve Marañon being naturalized as a Filipino very soon.
"We remain patient and hopeful that Bienvenido Marañon can join the national team in the future," he further said.
While Araneta further quipped that the PFF "understand the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic in the process which may have stalled Bienve’s papers in Congress," he admitted that they are now looking at a possibility of sitting him out for the June window of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers in Suzhou, China.
"With the current situation, we are facing the prospect of not having Bienve in the team for the remaining matches, considering the numerous requirements he has to comply with before he can suit up for the country," Araneta rued.
The Azkals are scheduled to face Guam on June 3, bubble host China on June 9, and Maldives on June 15.
The Azkals need to sweep their three remaining matches in hopes of making the 2023 AFC Asian Cup outright and keeping their bid for the 2022 FIFA World Cup alive.
They are to head to Doha for a training bubble before flying straight to Suzhou for the WCQ.
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