After being recruited to play for Lautoka in the OFC Champions League, Jack Caunter didn’t realise he’d also be given the task of taking penalties.
But when his side were awarded a spot kick in their opening Group B clash with the Malampa Revivors FC in Luganville, Vanuatu on Saturday, it just fell his way.
“They all just looked at me,” he said of his teammates. “And, I was like, sweet, yeah, I’ll take it. I love taking penalties and, to be fair, the keeper should have saved it, but he picked his way, I picked my way.”
Malampa gloveman Julian Malnaim did get a hand to Caunter’s penalty but couldn’t keep it out and the goal drew Lautoka level at 1-1, which turned out to be the final score.
Caunter plays for Forrest Hill Milford United AFC in Auckland in New Zealand but despite captaining the side, player-coach Adam Dickinson takes the penalties.
Being held to a draw by 10-man Malampa wasn’t the ideal start to the Champions League for Fiji’s Lautoka and Caunter said they expected better.
“We played pretty poorly, especially in that second half, we just gave so much ball away and I just thought we could have kept them working, like made them do the work. I was pretty disappointed; we were all pretty disappointed walking off the field with the result.”
Caunter, 25, has previously played for Nadi and represented Lautoka in last year’s Pacific Cup in New Zealand where they won the tournament.
He also turned his hand to recruitment for the Champions League by helping attain the services of goalkeeper Liam Anderson who was one of Lautoka’s best against Malampa.
“He’s one of my closest mates, Caunter said. “He lives with me and they just said we need a keeper as well.”
Luganville turned on a hot day for the opening games in Group B and Caunter said that added to the task.
“It was unbearable. It was probably the toughest game I’ve played. I was just struggling.”
Lautoka’s next match is against Papua New Guinea’s Lae City FC in Luganville on Tuesday.