Sundowns, who recently beat Pirates to this season's PSL title, have won three of the last five league trophies.
Bucs' second place finish is an indicator of bigger things to come, according to Maela.
"We have the potential to take over because we laid a solid base to come back stronger next season," Maela told SowetanLive.
"We caught even ourselves by surprise, that we were challenging for the league title," he continued.
"We're still humble enough to recognise Sundowns' achievements but we still possess the arrogance that we can do better in future," he added.
The Buccaneers were hoping to win their first league title since 2012 having won the trophy four times since 1996.
"I am so happy with the progress but winning takes a team effort. We beat Sundowns 3-1 [in January] and this goes to show that it's just a small gap [between us]," he added.
Maela was recalled by Pirates following a successful loan spell with Thanda Royal Zulu prior to the start of the current campaign.
"Personally, I have ticked the box of playing regularly and I was hoping to lift trophies this season but it was not to be. I am still proud because we were a fairly new team yet we still came so close to winning the league," he explained.
The 27-year-old full-back established himself as Bucs' first-choice left-back under Milutin 'Micho' Sredojevic.
"Coach Micho and Rulani [Mokwena, the assistant] always reminded us to play the way we train and that's what really helped our game," he concluded.
Maela and his Pirates will take on Free State Stars next weekend in their final league match of the season.