Europe's first four for Dubai

Spain, Portugal, Switzerland and Russia advanced to the semi-finals of European qualifying and in so doing became the first to book passage to the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Dubai 2009, which is to be held in November. Europe's qualifying competition on Gurugu Beach in Castellon, Spain began on 7 June and concludes on Sunday, with more than two dozen teams having participated.

"It's a relief to know that we're going to be in Dubai in November. Our first goal has been completed. We need to keep our feet on the ground if we aim to be champions in this tournament," said Roberto Valeiro, goalkeeper of the Spanish team that beat Azerbaijan 6-1.

Russia made it through after defeating France in a game that the Russians controlled from the start. Eric Cantona's boys could not equal their opponents' physicality and paid the price in a 4-3 defeat.

Switzerland managed to shock Italy in a tense affair. A double from Schirinzi and a goal each from Mo, Leu and Spacca enabled the Swiss to overcome Italy with a 5-3 victory and secure their spot in Dubai.

Portugal advanced to the semi-finals after comfortably defeating Romania 5-2.

The four nations that lost in the quarter-finals now enter a play-off to determine which team shall snatch the coveted final ticket to the global showpiece.

Saturday, 13 June