Even a brief glance at the list of 181 players called up for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Dubai 2009, to be held between 16 and 22 November, confirms the sheer weight of talent due to take to the sands of Jumeirah beach.
Spanish stars Amarelle and Roberto Valeiro, adidas Golden Ball and Golden Glove winners at Marseilles 2008, are both expected to take leading roles for La Roja once more. Also sure to excel is Brazilian livewire Buru, awarded the Golden Ball and Golden Shoe at Rio de Janeiro 2007, and the goal-hungry Portuguese Madjer, who claimed the Golden Shoe at Marseilles 2008 to go with Golden Ball and Golden Shoe awards from Rio de Janeiro 2005 and 2006.
Click on the team pages or player lists (on the right-hand side) to see the official squad lists.
Still yet to be determined are the identity of the tournament's Asian representatives and their definitive squad selections, given that the regional qualifying tournament will only take place from 7 to 11 November. With this competition also being held on Jumeirah beach, whichever Asian teams do qualify could hardly wish for a better dress rehearsal.
Each of the 16 nations preparing to battle it out for the global crown boast 13-man squads which, as the showpiece competition is held on a yearly basis, contain a veritable host of familiar faces. "This team is a mixture of experienced players and a few new boys. Seventy per cent of the squad will be playing at their second World Cup," said Portugal boss Ze Miguel.
"The team are in good form and since October we've done a lot of fitness, technical and tactical work. Our goal is of course to reach the final. But you play finals to win, not to make up the numbers, and that's the mentality we'll have in Dubai," added the coach of a national side which has appeared at every edition of the competition, reaching the final in 2005, without having lifted the trophy.
Spain supremo Joaquin Alonso, meanwhile, will be hoping his side can at least match last year's semi-final place: "The team are doing really well, they're very strong and constantly improving." Also in Dubai will be Brazilians Benjamin and Bruno, part of victorious Auriverde squads at three FIFA Beach Soccer World Cups, while Argentinian keeper Marcelo Salgueiro, Russia's Andrey Bukhlitskiy, Italy's Stefano Spada and Diego of Uruguay will all push hard for Valeiro's Golden Glove crown.
Missing from the event on the sands of the Persian Gulf will be France and Mexico, 2005 champions and 2007 runners-up respectively, though spectators are sure to enjoy equal thrills and spills from competition debutants Switzerland, Côte d'Ivoire and Costa Rica.
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