"We are very disappointed," said Cameroon captain Bertrand Abissonono after his side had gone down 4-0 to Russia, a result that ended their chances of progressing to the last eight. "We had high hopes when we came to Marseille but it has been a wonderful experience all the same. We'll come back even stronger."
The skipper's sense of dejection was shared by forward Aime Yombi, who also spoke to FIFA.com after their Marseille hopes were dashed. "We dared to dream but we never envisaged this."
Having suffered two defeats and conceded 14 goals while only scoring four, the Africans' luckless Group C challenge has left them with plenty of painful lessons to learn. "We came here to gain experience," said goalkeeper Jean Kengne.
"Cameroon doesn't have a beach soccer league and we all came from 11-a-side football. What we need is a little time to master the intricacies of the game on sand, not to mention the rules. We have to prepare ourselves better for future competitions."
"It's been a good learning experience for us and now we need to build on what we've been through here," continued Abissonono. "Looking back, maybe we haven't been realistic enough."
"I'm annoyed because I had a lot of chances and I didn't take as many I should," lamented team-mate Yombi. "Our opponents showed us what you need to succeed at this level, starting with the ability to exploit even the slightest of chances."
Despondent as they are at their early departure, the Cameroonians are trying to put things into perspective. "As a goalkeeper it's been great to get into beach soccer," said Kengne. "It's a lot tougher than traditional football because you're called into action a lot more and sometimes you have to make several saves in the space of a minute."
The Africans bid farewell to the tournament on Tuesday when they take on Argentina, an opportunity for them to thank the crowd at the Stade de Prado for the unstinting support received in their previous two outings.
"We don't want to go home without picking up a point at least," concludes the Cameroon captain. It's a question of honour and we'll be doing everything we can to make sure we don't go away without something.
"We need remember that we are representing an entire nation," added Kengne in agreement. "We can't afford to go back home knowing that we've made our fellow countrymen sad. It's up to us to raise our game."