PFF rues delay in naturalization of Azkals prospect as Kouame gets Gilas nod

PFF rues delay in naturalization of Azkals prospect as Kouame gets Gilas nod

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine Football Federation (PFF) Mariano "Nonong" Araneta has expressed his dismay in the delay in the naturalization process of United City FC's Bienvenido Marañon.

This as Marañon's fellow naturalization candidate Ange Kouame received the green light on Monday, having been signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Araneta lamented the setback due to the fact that Marañon and Kouame's naturalization process ran side by side.

"We understand the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic in the process which may have stalled Bienve's papers in Congress. Meanwhile, basketball player Angelo Kouame, whose naturalization process ran side by side with that of Bienve, was already granted Filipino citizenship after his naturalization was signed into law last Monday," wrote Araneta on his official 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," he added.

Marañon, the all-time AFC Cup leading goalscorer, has been a prospect for the Philippine Azkals for some time when he shown promise with Philippines Football League squad UCFC, formerly known as Ceres Negros FC.

Araneta had hoped that Marañon would be available for the national booters when they compete in the joint FIFA World Cup and AFC Asian Cup qualifiers set in China starting June 3.

However, with the delay of his naturalization, it is unlikely that the Spanish booter would be able to join the Azkals in time.

"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 Maran?on can join the national team in the future," he added.

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