Orlando Pirates goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands is not fazed by the love-hate relationship that he’s had with ‘the Ghost’ in the past 18 months.
Goalkeepers always get to walk on the tightrope, crucified for that one mistake that cost the team a match, while the numerous chances missed by strikers do not matter much.
Sandilands found himself in an unenviable position in the first game of last season, conceding after a blunder in the 1-1 draw against Highlands Park at home.
The 36-year-old was subsequently demoted to the reserves. He fought his way back to being the team’s No 1, returning to the seniors to inspire the Sea Robbers to the runners-up spot on the Premiership standings.
This term, Sandilands was dropped for French goalkeeper Joris Delle after four matches, a feat that cost the team dearly as the latter conceded eight goals in three matches.
In the last three matches Sandilands returned between the sticks, solidifying his team’s defence with two clean sheets, two wins and one loss.
One of the clean sheets ensured that Pirates progressed to the quarter-finals of the Telkom Knockout, where they’ll meet arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs at Moses Mabhida Stadium this afternoon (3pm).
Having Sandilands in goal will give ‘the Ghost’ belief that the team can take a step closer to ending their five-year trophy drought. But Sandilands argues he’s not playing to the hands of the supporters.
“I don’t try and read too much about what’s happening with supporters, what’s been said and not,” he said.
“Those things can change from moment to moment. For me it’s trying to develop my game as much as I can. Try to be consistent as much as I can, help the team as the collective. For me, I am trying to be there for the team when needed, try to play a style that can win for the team.
Whether the fans back you or not but you try to focus on Saturday (today) and do a great job for the team.”
Chiefs will likely start with Khama Billiat, Leonardo Castro and Samir Nurkovic, a trio that brought Premiership champions Mamelodi Sundowns to their knees a week ago away from home. However, luckily for the Sea Robbers, Sandilands is pretty aware of the danger that the trio will pose this afternoon. “We know what they are capable of, we will respect them. But as the coach said, we will obviously do our analysis and see where their strengths are and maybe which situations we can manipulate them not to allow their strengths to happen,” he said.
“So, we will do our homework on the day, see what questions are being posed and how effective we are in trying to impose on them.”
As if the tussle between the Chiefs’ strikers and Sandilands couldn’t get any better, Billiat, Castro and Sandilands were teammates at Sundowns.
“I know the two of them from the Sundowns days. I am not saying I know how they play and what they are going to do, but what they are capable of,” he concluded.