Three matches, three defeats, five goals against and none for. Not even the most pessimistic of Honduran followers could have predicted quite such a miserable return for Gilberto Yearwood's side at the Men's Olympic Football Tournament.

Even so, the Central Americans are departing China with their heads held high after doing battle with some of the world's top teams and gaining invaluable experience in the process.

"There is always a positive side to everything," said a resigned but relaxed Yearwood. "The players will just have to accept what happened here and we mustn't lose sight of our future objectives. The next step for them is the full national team, and there's no doubt in my mind that we've gained an awful lot in terms of experience in this tournament."

A mitigating factor in Honduras's disappointing showing was the quality of their opponents in Group D. And as Yearwood acknowledged, facing rivals of the calibre of Cameroon, Italy and Korea Republic, all of them major powers on their respective continents, was never going to be an easy task.

"We know we didn't come away with the results we'd hoped for and you're always going to get criticised when you lose. But this is only our second appearance at the Olympic Games and we were in a very tough section. A lot of sides are used to competing at this level but it's tougher for us, and even though no-one wanted this to happen it's not really a surprise."

Yearwood was not entirely downbeat about his side's Chinese adventure, however. "We weren't overawed and we suffered two honourable defeats. You also have to remember that Italy are one of the strongest teams in the world. And while our finishing wasn't good enough, it has to be said we didn't have the best preparation. Some of our best players only joined up with the squad at the last minute and we paid for that."

The voice of experience
Asked for his views on Honduras's exit, Yearwood's 33-year-old captain Samuel Caballero, who plays his club football for Chinese outfit Changchun Yatai, also pointed to the benefits of acquiring experience.

"Before the last game we spoke to the boys about the importance of being here. Unfortunately we didn't get the result we wanted but experiences like this will stand us in very good stead for what's lies ahead. They'll really benefit from it.

"It's a shame we couldn't bring some joy to the Honduran people but you have to understand that we can learn a lot from this for the future," continued the defender. "I'm getting on so for me playing in the Olympics is just something I can be proud of. For them, though, it's another benchmark in their personal development and they'll get the benefit of it in the future." Honduran fans dreaming of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ will be hoping that is indeed the case.

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