21 Dec 2014

Auckland City fans proud despite loss

11:24 am on 21 December 2014

Auckland City's supporters are proud of their team's achievements, despite their improbable run for football's Club World Cup title coming to an end, with an agonising 2-1 extra time loss to the South American champions, San Lorenzo in the semi-final in Marrakech.

Auckland City fans watching the team at the club's headquarters at Kiwitea St.

Auckland City fans watching the team at the club's headquarters at Kiwitea St. Photo: RNZ

After winning their first two matches, the club's supporters were hopeful but realistic about their side's chances of earning a spot in the final against Real Madrid, but turned out to the clubrooms to support the team.

50 of their biggest fans erupted in the club's Sandringham headquarters as Angel Berlanga's 67th minute equaliser gave them a chance of pulling off an unlikely victory and they remained confident of victory with the scores tied at the end of regulation.

However they were silenced early in the first extra time period when Mauro Matos scored the game-winner for San Lorenzo, ending their amateur opponents' dream run.

It was a deflating feeling for Auckland fan Matthew Vuksich, but he's proud of the way the team performed on the world stage.

"They kept on believing after each match that they could do better and better and they did better again today, but just couldn't quite get there in the end," he says.

"But that's football, they are the greatest team in South America, so we've done very well for a little team from Sandringham."

The team's coach, Ramon Tribulietx, called the result a moral victory and hopes their performances will boost football in New Zealand.

"It's great that we have awakened people and people have recognised that we're a good football side and we represent New Zealand around the world in a good way," Tribulietx said following the match.

"It's good for the game in New Zealand and hopefully people understand that football around the world is very important and we can play the game as well."

There will certainly be positive finacial impacts for the sport with the club earning more than 2 and a half million dollars, a portion of which will be distributed between New Zealand Football and other national league clubs.

Auckland City plan to use the money to clear more than $100,000 worth of debt and put the remainder towards a new training facility for the team.

But the club chairman Ivan Vuksich isn't thinking about money yet, instead taking a moment to reflect on the team's achievements.

"It's beyond my wildest dreams and I'm sure it's beyond the wildest dreams of a lot of people around this club," Vuksich says. "But it's a reflection of the really hard work, the dedicated volunteers, because most of us are volunteers and maybe it was just a bridge too far today, they're exhausted."

"I've got to be proud of them, absolutely."

Auckland City have one more game in Morocco, a third place playoff against the Mexican side Cruz Azul on Sunday morning.