Manawatu Standard

Debutante shows touch of class as Ferns lose

- Phillip Rollo

With her brother proudly watching from the stands, Gabi Rennie announced herself on the world stage by scoring with her first touch of internatio­nal football in the Football Ferns’ 2-1 opening defeat to Australia on Wednesday night.

The 20-year-old newcomer was the shining light in an otherwise disappoint­ing first-up showing for New Zealand in Tokyo, nodding a header past Matildas goalkeeper Lydia Williams to score a consolatio­n goal in stoppage time, mere minutes after being brought on in the hope of salvaging a result.

Although the Football Ferns ultimately left their run too late, unable to trouble Australia’s goal after Rennie’s 91st minute effort, the former Canterbury United Pride product was thrilled to mark her senior debut with a goal.

It was her only touch of the game after coming on in the 88th minute, but one that Rennie said she will remember for the rest of her life.

‘‘First up, getting to come on in that game was such an awesome moment for me alone. Getting my debut was a really big moment and then getting something in the back of the net was really exciting and it was an amazing feeling,’’ she said. ‘‘But obviously we were still 2-1 down so there was a quick realisatio­n that we needed to go grab the ball and see if we could get another one to equalise.

‘‘I’m definitely going to remember it for a long time. That was my only touch in the whole game, but I’ll take it. Not a bad stat. I’ll have it.’’

Making the moment even more special, her brother was there at Tokyo Stadium to witness the goal.

While all events are being held behind closed doors due to Covid19 restrictio­ns, Liam Rennie is currently in Japan working as a camera operator for Newshub and was able to use his media accreditat­ion to gain access to the Group G clash between the transtasma­n rivals.

Rennie said she was stoked to share the moment with at least one member of her family.

Despite her personal success, Rennie said it was a bitterswee­t night for the Football Ferns. They now face an improbable task of reaching the knockout stages, needing to beat at least one of the United States of America or Sweden in their remaining games in Group G to have any chance of progressin­g.

They play the US tomorrow night, with the world champions coming off a shock 3-0 defeat to Sweden.

‘‘We were all very gutted that we couldn’t get the result against Australia,’’ Rennie said.

‘‘We put out a performanc­e that at times was great and we had good opportunit­ies, but yeah, we also had moments that we can learn from and take into our next games.

‘‘Moving forward we have the USA and Sweden, which are going to be very tough matches, but there’s definitely no reason as to why we couldn’t get a result against those teams.

‘‘We’re going to go out there, focus on our next match and aim for three points.’’

 ??  ?? Gabi Rennie celebrates her quick-fire goal on debut against Australia.
Gabi Rennie celebrates her quick-fire goal on debut against Australia.

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