Sandilands received the club’s Golden Glove award for finishing the season with the most clean sheets (5). He did that in 11 league matches and laid a solid foundation that helped Pirates in their resurrection after a disappointing campaign two seasons ago.
Despite that, Sandilands last played for Pirates in the league last year. His last match in the Absa Premiership is one he would like to quickly forget, beaten from the halfway mark by his former teammate Hlompho Kekana in a 3-1 loss to Mamelodi Sundowns at Orlando Stadium.
The subsequent snub and injuries he sustained means that the last memory of Sandilands in most football fans’ consciousness is of him being beaten by Kekana.
“I don’t think that I have to redeem myself,” Sandilands snapped.
“One action in a game doesn’t define a person. I can talk about the hundred things that I have done right.
“I don’t have to redeem myself or anything. Injuries are frustrating but it’s something that you as a player must put in the past and just continue to strive forward.”
Eduardo Galeano could have been writing about Sandilands’ predicament in Football in Sun and Shadow in his piece about the goalkeeper.
“The rest of the players can blow it once in a while, or often, then redeem themselves with a spectacular dribble, a masterful pass, a well-placed volley. Not him. The crowd never forgives the ‘keeper,” Galeano wrote.
Sandilands will have it even tougher this season to reclaim the No1 jersey with the arrival of Brilliant Khuzwayo.
But what counts in the 34-year-old’s favour is that he is the most experienced keeper in the Buccaneers’ department and there is the not-so-small matter of him being the only one with a Caf Champions League winner’s medal.
Pirates will return to that tournament for the first time since they lost to Egypt’s Al-Ahly in the final of the 2013 edition.
Sandilands earned that medal. He was called into action in the 23rd minute of the final following Denis Onyango’s injury and he was brilliant.
“It was a special story because I played around seven games in that run to the final,” Sandilands said.
“It was a good experience and it’s something that you have hunger to consistently do as a player.
“It’s an excellent opportunity for the club to be in the competition and when we were in Zambia we got to watch a Champions League match.
“We watched Zesco United and seeing that game fuelled the hunger; we just wanted to participate and be involved in this competition.
“We’re looking forward to it and we’re under no illusion that it’s going to be hard. I have experienced that. Playing on the continent comes with its own challenges but it’s a tournament as a player that you would like to experience and savour.
“It’s an amazing thing being an African champion. I am looking forward to repeating that.”
Pirates start their 2018/19 Premiership campaign against Highlands Park next Saturday at Orlando Stadium.
The Buccaneers have to build on their good showing last season by finishing with a trophy as second place alone will no longer be enough.
“There’s a lot of pressure now but a club like Pirates deserves that,” Sandilands said.
“You need to be challenging for every trophy that’s on offer. We have to deal with that. As a player you want to be under that sort of pressure to be able to be at your best.
“The club deserves to have trophies and we as players want to contribute to that legacy and history.
“It’s a good kind of pressure and something that we can maintain, deal with and get silverware this season.”