Originally published by TIEBREAKER TIMES
For the past two days, United City forward Bienvenido Marañon must have been one of the happiest men on the planet.
The 35-year-old winger officially became a Filipino citizen by virtue of Republic Act no. 11570 last Wednesday.
Two days later, he finally broke his duck in the 2021 AFC Champions League. Marañon scored in the 69th minute against China’s Beijing Guoan, to set United City on its way towards an unforgettable 3-2 victory in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
“It was really emotional past few days. I was trying to focus only on the game, but it was really hard,” he said. “Overall, me and the team have managed to focus and we made history once again.
“It was hard at the beginning, but today we showed that we are strong enough to don’t give up and fight for the comeback. I’m very proud to be part of UCFC.”
As the top scorer in the history of the AFC Cup with 35 goals, hopes and expectations were high for Marañon to emulate his heroics at the biggest club competition in Asia.
Safe to say, though, that it has not been smooth sailing for numerous reasons. Still, that did not stop him from trying his best time and time again.
“I feel really good,” said the former Cadiz player. “I take every season as a different one, and the most difficult is to get started — to start scoring goals, especially in this kind of competition.
“Now that we won and I have scored, I’m sure more good moments will come. Not only for me, but also for the team.”
Beijing Guoan had raced to a two-goal cushion within the first four minutes of the fixture. United City’s players could have just bowed down and succumbed to a case of deja vu. They did not.
It took a lot of willpower to overturn the deficit, but Jason Withe’s men did so superbly.
“Proud is the word.
“Because we have fallen in the hardest group of the competition. After every defeat, we had every single day after we supported each other and we brought out the best of us again. We always give our 100 percent and that is the best we can do,” said the 5-foot-8 native of El Puerto, Spain.
For Marañon, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have hindered the preparations of United City before the tournament. The players were not able to train as well as they could have with Manila in lockdown.
While he felt that results could have been drastically different if the opposite happened, he simply elects to accept everything that has happened.
“But now we only think about to enjoy, learn, and improve from this beautiful competition. Also, we appreciate the management and staff for the amazing job they did to bring us here,” he added.
Fears emerged before the match that United City was in for another long afternoon. The defending Philippines Football League champions only had five players on the bench, two of whom were goalkeepers.
Ultimately, though, those suspicions proved misplaced. Every man sent on the pitch produced an excellent performance to clinch the famous win.
“Every single player can play in the first 11, and that is very important for us. We know with the format of this competition this season, we don’t have enough time to prepare the games properly. And that brings injuries to the team,” said Marañon.
“I’m sure the next game they will get well, will join the team. And we will do a great game to finalize our run in the Champions League with heads up and proud to bring home the first win ever for a Filipino club in Asia’s highest competition.”
Marañon and United City have one game left in the tournament this season, a rubber match against South Korea’s Daegu on Sunday. And the newest “kababayan” would be hopeful of extending his streak of happy days.