JOHANNESBURG - There is one trait Wayne Sandilands never lacks, regardless of how difficult things are.
It’s because of that attribute he was able to pick himself up from the disappointment of being side-lined at Mamelodi Sundowns to being Orlando Pirates’ No 1 and return to the Bafana Bafana fold. That trait is faith.
Sandilands is confident in himself and his talent. But more importantly for the Pirates’ goalkeeper, it’s the faith he has in his religion that is his anchor. It grounds him, giving him strength to face any adversity.
It’s no surprise then that the 34-year-old believes that Bafana can still qualify for the World Cup, despite needing to overcome great odds to do so. Bafana have just one point after three matches, five points behind leaders Burkina Faso who they host at FNB Stadium on October 7.
“There are two things that you can do, you can either sit, be depressed about it and believe that you aren’t going to Russia. If you believe that, you won’t go,” Sandilands said.
“Or you believe that you can, that there is a fighting chance and you fight. Even if it there is a slight glimmer of hope, you hold on to that and you fight. With that mind-set, there’s a possibility of going to the World Cup. I believe that we can still go.”
But before Sandilands can think about Burkina Faso, there’s Polokwane City to worry about first on Saturday at Peter Mokaba Stadium. The Buccaneers go to Polokwane on the back of their first defeat after a positive start that saw them collect 11 points in five matches. The loss to Bidvest Wits reminded Sandilands and company that they are still far from the finished deal.
“It was a rude awakening for us,” Sandilands said. “That defeat was a reminder that there are many challenges that we are going to face this season. It’s still a long way to go. After that loss we were hurt. We were hurt deeply.
"We are under no illusion that this is going to be a season with a lot of ups. There’ll be a bump here and there. We are regrouping knowing that the game against Polokwane City is going to be huge for us in terms of getting back where we want to be, especially before the Fifa break.”
Sandilands has brought discipline and a solid approach in the Buccaneers’ defence. Despite it not being as tight as it should, with three new players in the back five, this Pirates’ defence is more solid than the porous bunch that shipped in 40 goals in the last campaign.
There’s also the matter of a strike force that doesn’t send shivers down the opponents’ spine having never scored more than two goals in a single match. Such problems make Sandilands take their good start with a pinch of salt.
“We are grateful for it but we know that’s just what it is, a start,” Sandilands said. “Pirates had a similar start last season and they were at the top of the table at one point. We know how that season turned out.
"So we are under no illusion. We don’t want this to be the highlight of our season. We want to push on from here. We know that there’s a lot of work and improvement that lies ahead for us.”