Xola Mlambo leaps to defence of Orlando Pirates teammate Wayne Sandilands
Posted: 6 August 2018 Time: 15:00
Orlando Pirates midfielder Xola Mlambo has voiced his support for goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands as he pins the responsibility of the own-goal on the entire team.
Pirates succumbed to a 1-1 stalemate in their season-opening clash against newly promoted Highlands Park at the Orlando Stadium on Saturday evening.
Despite the visitors failing to register a single shot on target, Sandilands was the subject of mass criticism as The Buccaneers conceded their first goal in ill-fated fashion, with a back-pass from defender Gladwin Shitolo sneaking through the legs of the shot-stopper and into the goal.
This surely swung the momentum against the home side, who were forced to come from behind to salvage a point, but Mlambo insists the entire team took responsibility for the unfortunate incident as he refused to point fingers at the 34-year-old.
“It wasn’t easy, but this is the type of football we believe in and we play. Wayne is our brother, he didn’t make a mistake, the team made a mistake,” defended Mlambo.
“If we could point fingers and blame Wayne, asking how we could pick ourselves up, it would have been selfish of us. Wayne didn’t concede a goal, Orlando Pirates did.
“So, a brother’s mistake is a mistake of us all and, as you could see, we trusted him and continued with the process that we believe in – playing and building up from the back.
“He picked himself up and he did great, he managed to give us that extra man from the build-ups and it was just unfortunate that we couldn’t convert our chances to cover the mistake.”
This was not the first error from Sandilands, who was on the receiving end of harsh criticism after conceding to a long-range strike from former teammate and Mamelodi Sundowns captain Hlompho Kekana last season.
However, ‘Ten-Ten’ insisted that this past weekend’s mistake was one that anyone could have made, and welcomed the point gained rather than ruing the two points dropped.
“But, fortunately we got a point. It’s not bad, it’s the first game of the season and mistakes like this do happen. It’s more or less a mistake that I would make when trying to pass a ball and the opponents intercept it and go and score,” he argued.
“It’s just unfortunate that when he [Sandilands] missed the ball, it went through the back of the net, but then we as Orlando Pirates conceded the goal, not Wayne Sandilands. His fault is our fault.
“We all went down but managed to come back and lift ourselves up, and with the support of the coaches and the supporters, it became much easier when we kept on going.
“It’s just a pity that we couldn’t get the positive result, which was the three points for us.”