Red Sea too rough for Pirates
Al Ahly won the CAF Champions League title for the eighth time.
CAIRO - Al Ahly's massive home support played a big role in their win over Orlando Pirates in the African Champions League final on Sunday.
Most of the support came from the 'Ultras', which is what hardcore Al Ahly fans call themselves.
The Ultras packed the stadium hours before the match and created an intimidating and breathtaking atmosphere with their deafening chants.
Pirates coach Roger De Sa says the strong home support affected the performance of the Buccaneers.
"You can't hide away from that crowd, as much as we tried to keep position and play. Every time they made an attack their crowd got behind them and that's the way football is. It just added to the atmosphere and I think it's great to be part of it and to experience such fantastic support for their team."
De Sa says South African supporters are usually not as effective in unsettling opposition.
"They were intimidating always, and I think we can do the same back at home. Our fans aren't doing it enough."
Pirates captain Lucky Lekgwathi says they were definitely aware of the massive support for the home side.
"The atmosphere was incredible, playing in front of 25,000 crazy supporters, singing the whole 90 minutes. But despite that, I think my boys competed very well."
One of the three Pirates fans who made the journey to Cairo, Lethabo Mathubela, says there's no doubt the fanatical Al Ahly support gave the home side a massive boost.
"Those people were really making noise, we couldn't even hear the three vuvuzelas we had. They are very much passionate, they love their team, they support with their hearts and no player can disappoint that number of fans."
Mathubela says the overwhelming home support made it very uncomfortable for the visitors.
"We were scared. We could even see the players when they walked out they tried to sing, but the noise levels of these supporters were just so high. We as the fans we were also intimidated but we got used to it."
One of the other Pirates fans, Luvuyo Sixinti says South African supporters can learn from the Al Ahly fans.
"The Al Ahly fans were already at the stadium at 2pm. The stadium was already full and they were singing. When we go back to South Africa we going to tell our fans, this is how we should be supporting our teams."
Meanwhile, De Sa says Pirates can hold their heads high despite losing.
The Egyptian giants have won a record eighth title after a pulsating 2-0 win in Cairo on Sunday night.
De Sa says reaching the final is a great achievement.
"To be the second best team in Africa is not such a bad thing and I think there is no reason to drop our heads. We have to pick up our heads, correct our mistakes, get better and make sure we finish our chances."
De Sa says they wanted to make the nation even more proud.
"We are very disappointed. I hope we didn't let the people down and I hope just to get here was a fantastic high for everybody. I know we are a winning nation and we want to win everything, but our guys tried and it was very difficult as you can imagine."
De Sa says they were not far off from a second Champions League title.
"We could have finished it off because I don't think we were outplayed at all in many areas, even in their backyard we still showed good character to create numerous opportunities. We are disappointed that we were very close but we didn't finish it."
De Sa says they made simple errors which cost them the match.
"When you are playing PSL or playing in the cup competition back home, you can get away with a couple of mistakes because your opposition will miss and not punish you. But when you get to this level and you are playing against Esperance, TP Mazembe and Al Ahly, one mistake and they punish you."
Midfield maestro Andile Jali and fullback Happy Jele were suspended after the first leg and De Sa says their presence would have made a difference.
"We had four crucial players missing from the squad who would have played if they were fit. But we are not going to cry over that, that's part of the game. Players get injured and others get suspended. You can't win everything with just eleven players, you need more."
Al Ahly legend Mohamed Aboutrika, who retires this season, scored the opening goal in both legs of the final and De Sa says he's only one of the dangermen.
"Aboutrika would always stand with his quality and experience. But there are many others who were also very good, they had a solid defence and their striker was also very good. But I think it's more about the team than the individual players. Aboutrika definitely was always a problem for us."