Auckland City coach Ramon Tribulietx has declared his team the moral winners after the part-timers took South American champions San Lorenzo to extra time, and came close to a meeting with Real Madrid in the Club World Cup.
Auckland eventually lost their semi-final 2-1, ending a run in which they had already seen off Moghreb Tetouan, champions of host nation Morocco, and African champions ES Setif.
San Lorenzo will play Real Madrid in Sunday morning's final in Marrakech.
"We are the moral winners by a mile, pushing the South American champions, not losing in 90 minutes and even having the chance to win the game," Tribulietx said.
"Losing in extra time is a big win as far as we're concerned, we are very proud of it and we will remember this for a long time."
Auckland's team includes a zoology student, lawyer, delivery truck driver, grass roots soccer coaches and retail assistant, yet Tribulitex said his team looked like the professionals at times on Wednesday.
"At times it, looked like we were the professional team, we had they ball and they were on the back foot," he said.
"To force this team back, imagine, that's spectacular for us. This is the fruit of a lot of patience and a lot of work by a lot of people, it produces fruit."
"We proved we can be competitive on a big stage and I'm very proud."
Auckland are guaranteed at least $2.5 million, though that could increase to $3.2 million if they win the third place playoff against Mexican side Cruz Azul on Sunday morning.
The Argentinean side scored through striker Mauro Matos in the third minute of extra time to retake the lead after the match finished tied 1-1 after regular time in Marrakech.
The Auckland defender Angel Berlanga fired a superbly struck shot into the back of the South American champion's net midway through the second half, scoring with the narrowest of angles to work with to draw level with the Argentinean side.
City earlier conceded a goal on the stroke of half-time after San Lorenzo's midfielder Pablo Barrientos beat the Auckland goalkeeper Tamati Williams with a strong shot in the second minute of first-half injury time.
Fans proud of effort
About 50 supporters turned out at the Auckland City base in Sandringham, Auckland, this morning to watch the biggest game in the club's history.
While Auckland City were clearly the underdogs, they remained hopeful of upsetting San Lorenzo and going through to the final, where they would have played the Spanish giants Real Madrid.
Those hopes took a big blow as Auckland conceded right before half-time, but the clubrooms erupted when right back Angel Berlanga took a well-executed chance in the second half.
The strike from San Lorenzo early in the first extra-time period ultimately put paid to Auckland's chances, but the club's chairman, Ivan Vuksich, says they remain extremely proud of the team.