The road to Portugal
Having qualified for every edition of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, Japan kicked off the 2015 AFC Beach Soccer Championship as heavy favourites to collect their third continental title and book a ticket to Portugal. The Samurai Blue cruised through the group stage in a section featuring Kuwait, Vietnam and China PR, and continued their run by toppling Bahrain in the quarter-finals. They then emerged 5-4 winners in a tight semi-final against fellow heavyweights Iran to seal their eighth World Cup berth, only for their seventh appearance in the continental showpiece to end in a penalty shoot-out loss to surprise side Oman.

Strengths and style
Japan's success at the AFC Championship is owed much to captain Ozu Moreira and Goto Takasuke, who found the net eight times apiece to contribute more than half of their team's goals. Meanwhile, Brazilian coach Marcelo Mendes has carried on the work started by his predecessor Ruy Ramos, above all helping Oda Hirofumi, Teruki Tabata and goalkeeper Shingo Terukina demonstrate their ability at the highest level.  

FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup record
An ever present force at the Beach Soccer World Cup, Japan's love affair with the competition began at the very first edition, where they finished fourth. The Samurai Blue then suffered a series of group stage exits until Dubai 2009, where they made their way through to the quarter-finals. They subsequently lost all three games at Ravenna 2011 but quickly made amends at Tahiti 2013, only bowing out after a narrow 4-3 defeat by Brazil in the last eight.