The Filipinas are coming home with their pride intact and their heads held high, after a quarterfinal exit in the 19th Asian Games in China.
An 8-1 loss to Japan -- the defending Asiad champions who are ranked eighth in the world -- dashed the Philippines' hopes of making it to the medal round.
But the Filipinas took the defeat in stride and are instead focusing on the gains they made in the Asian Games. In their first appearance in the Asiad, they had beaten Hong Kong and clobbered Myanmar, though they also lost to another continental powerhouse in South Korea.
Their 3-0 triumph over Myanmar -- a Southeast Asian rival -- meant that a Philippine football team would advance to the knockout phase of the Asiad for the first time in 65 years.
"It was a tough tournament," noted Filipinas team manager Jeff Cheng. "A lot of new things to deal with and adjust to. A new tournament with a different set up. New coaches for us, a new team for our coaches."
The Asian Games was Mark Torcaso's first tournament in charge of the Filipinas, after replacing Alen Stajcic following their campaign in the FIFA Women's World Cup.
"What we were ready for, we gave our best. Anywhere we could have done better, we acknowledge, analyze and improve for the next time," said Cheng.
The Philippine Football Federation headed by Mariano Araneta hailed the Filipinos for yet another milestone, which came two months after a historic debut in the FIFA World Cup.
"We will continue to grow," Araneta vowed.
"I give credit to the players. And regardless of the final score or how we got there, in every match, they leave no room for anyone to doubt their will to give their best for the team and for the country," Cheng also said.