Uruguay
© AFP

The Past
A veritable powerhouse in this speciality, Uruguay are one of only seven sides to have taken part in every FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup. Twice they have enjoyed podium finishes, taking runners-up spot at Rio de Janeiro 2006, then third place the following year also in Rio. Despite arriving in Marseille last year as title contenders, La Celeste produced their worst ever showing in the competition, finishing a disappointing seventh.

The Present
In spite of the pressure of playing the South American qualifiers on home soil, Venancio Ramos' charges survived a scare or two to book their places at Dubai 2009 with relative ease. The emphatic defeat at the hands of Brazil in the final should not detract from what was a fine tournament for them overall, even if the reverse served as a timely reminder of what they can expect from the other contenders in Dubai. With practically the same squad that competed at Marseille 2008, Uruguay will travel to the UAE with their sights set on a semi-final berth at the very least.

The Future
"We're once again the second best team in South America, and that is something very significant for us. Now the objective is to have a fitting conclusion to four consecutive World Cup appearances, and what better way to do that than secure a podium finish," says Diego, the Celeste's goalkeeper and captain.  

Facts and figures
Former stars
Seba (2005)

Key players
Diego (goalkeeper), Coco (defender), Pampero (defender), Parrillo (defender), Ricar (wide player), Martin (pivot).

Qualifying statistics
In their five qualifying games in the South American Championship, Uruguay won three and lost two, scoring 18 goals and conceding 16. Their top scorer was Martin (five goals).

The numbers game
11- The total number of wins Uruguay have accumulated in matches at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup - the fourth best record in the history of the event.