Football: Marañon 'at home' with Philippine Azkals, reports coach

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 06 2021 06:33 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- Bienvenido Marañon has been "at home" with the Philippine Azkals as they prepare for their campaign in the AFF Suzuki Cup, national team coach Stewart Hall said.

Hall, who will call the shots for the team in close coordination with Scott Cooper, said Marañon has been adjusting well to the squad ahead of his debut for the Philippines.

"(His adjustment has been) very good," Hall said in a press conference on Saturday. "We have a few players in the team, in the squad who speak Spanish, so he's very at home with them."

"I also speak a little bit of Spanish as well, so I've been able to have some banter with him, a little bit of joke with him. And his English is good anyway," he added.

The Azkals got a bye on Sunday and will open their campaign on Wednesday night against host nation Singapore. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the AFF Suzuki Cup will be held in a centralized venue this year instead of following the usual home-and-away format.

For the 35-year-old Marañon, it will mark the first time he will get to play in a Philippines jersey after his naturalization was finalized in July.

Expectations are high for Marañon, a proven goal-scorer who stars for United City in the Philippines Football League. According to Hall, the Spanish-born striker has been showing his quality even at practices.

"We did a session this morning on finishing, and his finishing was excellent," Hall said. "That's why he's in the squad, you know, his goals record. And I think he's a good addition, and very, very easy to work with."

Marañon has already expressed his excitement to finally play with the Azkals but also noted that he must first learn the team's system and style.

"Hopefully I can adjust to the team," he said. "I know many players because I played with them in the Philippines. But most of them, I didn't play (with) so I have to adjust to them."

"I'm sure during these five days that we have for training before the first game, I think I will adjust then, I will know them, they will know me, and we will do something great. So I can't wait to start the games, start the training, and hopefully to do the best for the country," Marañon added.