Johannesburg - Orlando Pirates coach Vladimir Vermezovic heaped praise on his team, still reeling from the loss of Senzo Meyiwa, for their bravery after the 2-0 loss to SuperSport United at the Orlando Stadium on Saturday.
United cruised into the Telkom Knockout final at the expense of the Buccaneers, after a comprehensive victory in the semi-final.
"Congratulations to my players especially after weeks of an usual situation. We tried but we couldn't do anything it was too much pressure," Vermezovic said.
"They were brave and they came out to play, they tried but they could not make anything more."
Pirates felt the full extent of the void left by goalkeeper and captain Meyiwa who was gunned down a fortnight ago in Vosloorus.
First-half strikes by Lebogang Manyam and Dove Wome secured the final berth of Matsatsantsa, subsequently denying Pirates of a sixth consecutive cup final appearance.
The death of Meyiwa had prompted Pirates to make some team changes, with Oupa Manyisa captaining the side while Brighton Mhlongo was given the gloves in goal.
With the mourning Buccaneers distant and aloof at times, United showed no mercy – putting on a clinical display against the wounded opposition.
United coach Gordon Igesund, who guided the team to a cup final after only two months in charge, said it was their expansive style of play had borne fruit.
"I've been able to give the players the freedom to attack. The work that needed to be done was in defence. It needed to be well organised with one or two holding midfielders. The players we have are all attacking players," Igesund said.
Igesund, however, said the final had not yet been won and his side would have to execute for them to end their two-year cup drought.
"I think there is still a lot of work to be done. We are not where we want to be at the moment. I am pleased with the way we have been playing at the moment. We’ve played eight games and we have won seven which makes me happy."
Vermezovic hailed replacement goalkeeper Mhlongo who had been hardest-hit by the death of Meyiwa.
"I must say that Brighton did a good job. I spoke with him prior to the game and I knew it was going to be difficult because he was a close friend of Senzo.
"Players will always tell you that they are fine, but deep inside they are hurting. I don’t want to make the situation as an excuse for the loss."
It had been a sorrowful two weeks for Pirates, with Siyabonga Sangweni and Helder Pelembe having lost family members after Meyiwa’s passing.
"Sangweni lost a member of his family and Pelembe also lost a member of his family.
"Three times is enough I hope for us, with three deaths in two weeks. We have two weeks to regroup and try to bounce back after going through a very tough period."