Durban – Orlando Pirates coach Vladamir Vermezovic admitted that the key to their Nedbank Cup success was not to panic when they fell a goal behind to Wits in the Durban final on Saturday.
Jabulani Shongwe had given the Students a 26th minute lead in a feisty affair at Moses Mabhida Stadium, before a second-half double by man-of-the-match Kermit Erasmus and a Sifiso Myeni strike sealed the title for the Buccaneers.
“I did not panic not at all. When we went into the dressing room at half-time, I said to our players we're going to score for sure,” Vermezovic said after the match.
“I'm always positive, I never give up and the players can feel that. If you are scared as a coach and you don't believe in your team then your players can feel that too.
“So I couldn't allow myself to feel that way, my players won't believe in me (if I did). So because of that, I was full of confidence that we would come back and win.”
The Buccaneers faced the prospect of ending the season without a trophy heading into the game.
They had already collected three runners-up medals heading into the South African finale after losing in the deciding games of the MTN8, Telkom Knockout and CAF Champions League earlier in the term.
But they showed excellent character, according to the Serbian coach.
“After losing three finals previously this season, I felt we deserved to win this one,” Vermezovic said.
“Maybe the 3-1 scoreline was a bit flattering because they had some chances, but overall I thought we deserved it.
“We showed to our supporters that we can play as a team, whether it was in the bad moments or good moments, we believed we could score and we did.”
It was the eighth time in their history they had won the competition, which is the country's FA Cup, at a venue that the former Kaizer Chiefs coach won his first domestic trophy Ä the Telkom Knockout in 2009.
“It's the third consecutive weekend we are here and it's our third consecutive win,” he added in reference to their semi-final win over Maritzburg United and final Premiership game against Golden Arrows.
“Sometimes we are superstitious, but Durban has always been good for me and for my teams.
“That means maybe we can start thinking about coming here to play all our games.”
Counterpart Gavin Hunt, playing in his third straight Nedbank Cup final, felt his side was “robbed” of victory after several contentious decisions by referee Zolile Mthetho.
The official failed to spot a foul by Myeni in the build-up to the second goal, whilst also letting Pirates defender Happy Jele off the hook on several occasions.
However, Mthetho was also lenient on Wits striker Sthembiso Ngcobo and defender Sboniso Gumede early in the game, the latter escaping with a hand ball in the box.
“I can't really say much, we lost 3-1 and that's all I want to say,” Hunt said.
“The players are distraught, they know they were robbed and the officiating today was disgraceful.
“The second goal was a clear foul if you watch it and that changed the game.” – Sapa