Moroka Swallows exceeded expectations, according to coach Zeca Marques, by earning a crushing 6-5 aggregate MTN8 semifinal win over Mamelodi Sundowns.
|Zeca Marques @ Backpagepix
The Birds were 3-0 up inside the first 20 minutes in their second-leg match in Dobsonville on Sunday, and despite a late comeback by the Brazilians, the Soweto side were the better team on the day as they clinched a 3-2 victory.
Marques said their run to the final and the win over Downs had done little to relieve pressure on the underdogs.
“The pressure will always be there but I can tell you this – I love it when a plan comes together," Marques said.
"There's nothing like proving people wrong. That's what motivates me and I keep telling our players this.”
Swallows will aim to win their first silverware since the Nedbank Cup in 2009 when they square up against SuperSport United, who beat Orlando Pirates 3-0 in their second-leg clash on Saturday.
Under former coach Gordon Igesund, Swallows were in the running to win the Premiership last season right up to the final game, but Pirates snatched the honours.
Now under the reins of Marques, they want something to show for their efforts.
“We've got a lot to prove this year," Marques said.
"Personally, I've got a lot to prove. I know that.
"I think the players are aware of that, so I'll keep driving that as long as I can because this is not over yet. This is just the beginning.”
Marques said the Birds would shift focus swiftly to the final and the remainder of the season.
“Now we have to focus on the final," he said.
“Between the final we've got Pirates (in a league match) and then the rest of the season, but obviously I'm happy with the fact that I've reached the final.
"When I say 'I', I mean the team. It's not just about myself.
“It's really huge, so I'm delighted, there's no doubt about that.”
Marques hinted that his troops would not be satisfied unless they lifted the trophy on September 22.
“The momentum and the expectation has risen.
"The expectation has been huge and ongoing and obviously the players are aware of that.
“Fortunately I've got a great group of players – very mature, very professional.
"I've got a group of players that are still very ambitious, and they want to go out there and prove people wrong.”
Despite fielding a number of older players as regulars in the starting line-up, including veteran striker Siyabonga Nomvethe, the coach said his experienced squad had what it would take to compete with the top clubs this season.
“The age factor always comes up," Marques said.
"So we want to show once and for all that age is just a number.
"Now that we're in the final it will lay the foundation for the rest of the season.”