SuperSport United coach Gavin Hunt remained proud of his charges after a spirited 1-0 win over Mamelodi Sundowns in Atteridgeville on Saturday, despite his squad falling out of Premiership title contention.
“We knew the league was out for us and Sundowns, that's for sure, even with the outside chance we gave ourselves,” Hunt said.
“It's all about how high up we can end on the table.
“There is more money the higher we finish and hopefully more money to get one or two players next season.”
Sundowns and United saw their title hopes fade with log leaders Orlando Pirates securing a 2-1 win over Bloemfontein Celtic in a simultaneous fixture.
The Brazilians were superior at home, but United sealed victory through Sibusiso Zuma after a counter-attack on the left from powerful winger Franklin Cale.
“Sundowns had better ball retention and were better than us,” Hunt admitted.
“But at the end of the day, football is about results, courage and determination.”
The best that United can finish is second in the standings, provided they pick up a win over Bloemfontein Celtic on Saturday and other results go their way on the last day of the league season.
Sundowns will at best be aiming for third place when they meet Free State Stars.
Hunt praised Zuma and he hoped he would retain the services of the former Bafana Bafana captain for another season.
The United mentor believed Zuma would have been chasing Siyabonga Nomvethe as the league's top scorer, had he played the whole season.
The resurgent 36-year-old missed the start of the campaign, after signing from relegated Vasco da Gama, while recovering from an Achilles tendon injury.
“I want to keep him,” Hunt said.
“A guy like Zuma would sure be up there with Nomvethe if he had his way.
“He snapped his Achilles, and at 36, he should have been finished.”
Meanwhile, Sundowns coach Johan Neeskens admitted their league hopes ended at the start of the year when they struggled to garner results.
The Brazilians topped the log at the halfway stage before being toppled by Pirates in March.
“We didn't lose the championship in this game (against United), we lost it in the draws we had earlier this year,” Neeskens said.
The Dutch playing legend defended his decision not to pick Elias Pelembe in the match squad despite the winger being fit for selection.
“He is not injured,” Neeskens said.
“We have a big squad at Sundowns and I did not want to change a winning combination from our last match.”
Sundowns will meet United again in the Nedbank Cup final at Orlando Stadium on May 26. – Sapa