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Gunemba a rising talent

She again proved her worth to the Papua New Guinea national line-up in February when she beat a string of Junior Football Ferns to the 2014 OFC Women’s Championship Golden Ball.
An emerging talent, she was picked to make her debut for the senior squad against the Cook Islands on Match Day 1 of the OFC Women’s Nations Cup in Kokopo, Papua New Guinea – and what a debut it was.

The 19-year-old striker fired her way to a hattrick in the 4-1 victory, and could have added a few more had she not been so nervous.

“I was kind of a bit frightened but I wanted to do my best,” she says.

“I thank God that I could score three goals – a hattrick – in the game. I was a bit nervous because it was my first time playing with the women’s team but I was so thankful at the result.”

Coach Gary Phillips knows that Gunemba is can make an outstanding contribution to his squad, and while pleased to see her net three times, believes she could have done better.

“I was very disappointed actually. She had probably nine or ten good goal scoring chances and she just rushed.

“But she’s another young player coming into the senior national team and she just got excited. She was so excited before the game, and I’m happy for her and the goals she got.

“However if she wants to be a permanent member of the national team she needs to take those chances because it could come down to one or two chances determining an outcome and she needs to learn to put those chances away.”

Gunemba herself is aware that there is plenty of room for improvement, and with a permanent spot in this squad on her radar she’s willing to put in the hard yards to earn it.

“I think it’s another level in my career,” she says of her step up.

“We train hard and it’s going to be a good challenge for us against New Zealand – most of them are World Cup players and some of us are nervous to play against them but we will have positive minds for this match.”

Gunemba says with nine of the squad fellow U-20 players, the move to senior international football hasn’t been as scary as if she was making it on her own – giving her the confidence boost to take on the Kiwis without fear.

“My coach told me to watch the backline of New Zealand, to get on them and stay with them so I can score. He knows their weaknesses and he knows I have footworks and he believes I can beat them easy and go.

“I’ll be doing my best to score against the New Zealanders because at U-20 level I tried my best but didn’t, so here I think I have a positive mind-set that I will score against them.”

Papua New Guinea will play the defending champions, New Zealand’s Football Ferns, at 2pm this afternoon at Kalabond Oval in Kokopo, Papua New Guinea on Match Day 2 of the OFC Women’s Nations Cup.

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