Orlando Pirates defender Ayanda Gcaba believes they did not lose the CAF Confederation Cup final this past weekend, but the previous one, when they were held to a 1-1 home draw.
The Buccaneers were beaten 1-0 by Etoile du Sahel in the second leg in Sousse on Sunday, a week after they drew the first leg 1-1 in Soweto. That meant they suffered a 2-1 aggregate loss in the continental spectacle.
The only goal of the contest came midway through the first half when goalkeeper visiting Felipe Ovono was unable to deal with a cross and Ammar Jemal poked the ball home, via a deflection off Happy Jele.
“We did play well, even though it never came our way,” Gcaba told the Herald. “But we’re very disappointed. We came here for a win, I think we gave it away at home with a 1-1 draw.
“Coming here, we knew we had to fight. The guys tried their best to create opportunities, and we did manage to get some.”
The versatile defender was also somewhat relieved that the African journey for Pirates in 2015 was now over.
He said was not sure supporters fully comprehended the physical and mental toll continental success has on a team.
He continued: “I think people don’t realise how tiring it is. You get to an airport, spend six hours there, then connect to a new place. You get there, rest for an hour or two, then go to training, prepare for a game, go to a game and play.
“Then you do the same procedure coming back home. Sometimes people criticise us for our form at home.
“Whatever people say, as players we see it in newspapers or on Twitter, and we take it into consideration, and turn it into a positive that will inspire us.”
He explained that, apart from the job aspect of life as a footballer, there was also the family side of life that suffered with such an arduous campaign.
“It is a relief because it’s been nine months on the road, away from our families, and really tough trips,” Gcaba added. “It has taken a toll on some of the guys.
“Now we have to use the break wisely because there is a tough one at the end of it against Mamelodi Sundowns (on December 20).”
Pirates are scheduled to arrive back in South Africa on Wednesday.