Western Sydney Wanderers FC have declared their FIFA Club World Cup experience a success despite not picking up a win at the tournament in Morocco.
The Wanderers had to settle for a sixth-place finish at the event after losing on penalties to African champions ES Setif on Thursday morning after the sides were level at 2-2 at full time.
“We made ourselves and the country proud with our performances,” stand-in skipper Labinot Haliti said.
“Obviously the result was disappointing. In the first half we could have killed the game but unfortunately it didn’t happen.
“The performance is there it’s just the result. I think we showed we can match it with the best in the world…even in the first game we were two minutes away (from beating Crux Azul) so we can take positives out of it.
“We’re playing good as a team and we’re creating chances, as long as where doing that it’s a good thing.”
A Romeo Castelen thunderbolt gave the Wanderers an early lead against Setif only for a couple of defensive lapses at the start of the second half saw them suddenly behind.
Substitute Vitor Saba then scored his first goal for the club with a sublime free-kick in the final minute to send the match to penalties.
Goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis – in for the rested Ante Covic – pulled off three saves in the shoot-out but it wasn’t enough as the Africans prevailed.
“Funny enough I missed a penalty to win it,” Bouzanis lamented afterwards.
“These things happen. I was happy with performance I put in and more important the lads worked hard.
“What we’re looking at now is the performances from the players and it’s great that other players got a chance to play and show the boss what they can do.
“Overall we’re happy. It’s been a great time here in morocco and we’re all pleased for the occasion.”
The Wanderers will now head home to focus on the Hyundai A-League where they are currently last on the ladder without a win from their opening nine matches.
Tony Popovic’s side are next in action on December 28 when they travel to Wellington to face Phoenix.