The Philippine Football Federation (PFF) has no choice but to wait for the naturalization of Spanish striker Bienvenido Marañon, even as the 2022 FIFA World Cup Asia approaches.
Marañon's naturalization process ran parallel with that of basketball player Ange Kouame, declared a Filipino citizen on Tuesday.
But the footballer's papers have yet to be signed by President Duterte.
"As of Tuesday, 18 May 2021, we are still waiting for Bienvenido Marañon’s naturalization as a Filipino. We understand the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic in the process which may have stalled Bienve’s papers in Congress," said Nonong Araneta, president of the sport's national governing body, in a statement.
"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."
The PFF is hoping to field Marañon together with the Philippine Azkals for the FIFA World Cup and AFC Asian Cup qualifiers. The qualifiers begin June 3.
But for now, all the federation could do is wait.
"We were hoping that the urgency of our situation would have made the process of Bienve's naturalization faster. But 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," said Araneta.
"We remain patient and hopeful that Bienvenido Marañon can join the national team in the future."
FROM THE ARCHIVES