Portugal have never failed to reach the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup. Yet despite their proud qualification record and their regular billing as favourites they have yet to go all the way. In 2005, they knocked out Brazil in the semi-finals only to lose to France in the decider. A year later A Canarinha exacted revenge in the last four before Les Bleus edged the match for third place. The Portuguese failed to progress beyond the quarter-finals 12 months later and in 2008 Brazil once again proved their nemesis, this time in the final.
Portugal had to make do with fourth place in the European qualifying competition in June. After defeating Azerbaijan, Austria and Germany in the group phase, the Lusitanians overcame Estonia and Romania before going out to eventual runners-up Russia, with the fast-improving Swiss then beating them in the third place play-off.
"This is one of the most balanced sides we've had for a few years. We've had some great players with bags of talent but we've never had the balance we have now. The new boys coming into the side have skills and qualities that fit in perfectly with the rest of the team and it's been easy for them to settle in. I think this balance could be our strength," Portugal striker Madjer.
Facts and figures
Jonas, Andrezinho, Ricardo Loja, Hernani.
Alan, Belchior, Madjer, Torres.
Five wins, two defeats, 47 goals scored and 29 conceded.
The numbers game
54 - The number of goals Madjer has scored in four FIFA Beach Soccer World Cups, a haul that has helped him collect a dazzling array of individual awards including three adidas Golden Shoes (2005, 2006 and 2008), two adidas Golden Balls (2005 and 2006) and an adidas Silver Shoe (2007).