A familiar face and a winning tradition await Marañon in Malaysia

Bienvenido Marañon, the Philippines’ most prolific striker, joins forces with Malaysia’s most decorated professional football club

MANILA, Philippines — In 2017, Bienvenido Marañon tormented popular Malaysian club Johor Darul Ta’zim FC – the 2015 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup champions – as he led Philippine side Ceres Negros to a win in the AFC ASEAN Cup Zonal Semi-Finals.

He won’t torment Malaysians anytime soon.

The Philippines’ most prolific forward has joined Malaysia’s most decorated professional football club as Johor Darul Ta’zim FC, also known as JDT and the Johor Southern Tigers, it was officially announced on Thursday. January 20 that the team had signed Marañon for the 2022 season.

“I just want to enjoy this beautiful club,” Marañon told Rappler. “It’s an exciting year. I’m going to give my best and enjoy football again.

In Marañon, the Southern Tigers will add an offensive weapon that will only make the club more formidable. Not only is Marañon arguably the most creative and tenacious striker to play on Philippine soil in the past six years, but he is also the AFC Cup’s all-time top scorer.

In the JDT, Marañon will join a club with a long tradition of success. The Southern Tigers have won the Liga Super Malaysia eight times in a row from 2014 to 2021. The Liga Super Malaysia is the top professional division in the Malaysian professional football league system.

JDT has also made its mark on the international scene. It is only the second Malaysian club to win the AFC Cup. He has also been a fixture for the past three years in the AFC Champions League, the annual competition between Asian champions and top football clubs.

The Johor Southern Tigers played their home games from 2020 at Sultan Ibrahim Stadium, a 40,000 capacity football stadium in Iskandar Puteri, Johor, Malaysia. This debut, Marañon is already looking forward to running on the stadium field.

“I want to have a great pre-season. I would love to have these big competitions here in Malaysia,” he said.

Preparations for the JDT have already started as they gear up for a packed pre-season camp in Dubai, UAE, starting Tuesday, January 25. The Southern Tigers are to face top football clubs such as MSK Zilina from Slovakia, Riga FC from Latvia as well as Russian clubs Rodina Moscow and Spartak Moscow.

The majority of JDT’s local players are members of the Malaysian national team, including team captain Aidil Zafuan and two naturalized Malaysians – winger Aidil Zafuan from Gambia and striker Guilherme from Brazil.

The club also have quality reinforcements such as Italian Serie A and English Premier League veteran Fernando Martin Forestieri from Italy, who is said to be the most expensive player in La Liga Super Malaysia, Bergson da Silva and Maurício from Brazil. , Leandro Sebastián Velázquez from Argentina, and former Aston Villa defender Shane Lowry from Australia.

But perhaps one of the teammates Marañon is most looking forward to playing with is Carli de Murga, whose signing by JDT was announced the same day as Marañon’s.

De Murga, long-time Filipino defensive stalwart Azkal, was the team captain last season at another Malaysian club, Terengganu FC.

Marañon and De Murga are longtime friends who both have their roots in El Puerto de Santa María in Spain. They both rose through the junior ranks together and were teammates at Cadiz CF, a Spanish professional football club based in Cadiz, Andalucia. De Murga helped convince Marañon to take his talents to Philippine shores in 2015.

Marañon acknowledged the significance of De Murga’s signing with JDT.

“It’s very special to share this experience with Carli. We are friends and now teammates again. It’s always great to come to a new club with someone you know and even more so if it’s your friend,” he said. “We will enjoy this 2022 season very much with Johor and Azkals as well.” – Rappler.com

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