Orlando Pirates coach, Roger de Sa, has paid tribute to his players whom he says made a formidable journey to reach the Champions League final.
This was after the Buccaneers' miraculous campaign in this competition came to a disappointing end as they went down 2-0 to Al Ahly in the final last night, for a 3-1 aggregate loss.
Read: De Sa: Ahly Deserved The Title
Prior to reaching the final, Pirates were never given a chance to progress far in the Champions League.
When they were pitted against TP Mazembe in the qualifiers, many people thought it was the end of Pirates’ campaign in the competition, but they brushed the DRC giants aside and qualified for the group stages.
The Buccaneers were then drawn against Egyptian giants Ahly and Zamalek & AC Leopards from the Congo in Group A and once again people hardly gave them a chance let alone make it to the last four, but the Buccaneers proved doubters wrong by not only qualifying, but by walloping both Egyptian teams.
De Sa admits that at first, he too didn’t think Pirates would go far in the Champions League.
“If you had told me ten months ago that we would be playing in the Champions League final, l would have laughed at you. Not only did we get to the final but to do so after knocking out the likes of TP Mazembe, Esperance and emerge from a group with Zamalek and Al Ahly speaks volumes about the tenacity and ability this Pirates team. I would even say we overachieved in this year’s Champions League campaign,” De Sa told CAF Online.
Meanwhile, De Sa thinks that Ahly midfielder, Mohamed Aboutrika, is still good enough to play top level football.
There has been reports in the media that legendary Egyptian midfielder is ready to retire from football.
“He is a very good player and is surely capable of delivering the same quality for more years. Of course we would welcome him at Pirates if he wants to come over, “concluded De Sa.
Watch: Aboutrika scoring against Pirates
By Khaya Ndubane
Follow Khaya on Twitter: @Lakhandu