Costa Rica
© AFP

The past
For three years Costa Rica had tried to qualify for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup and for three years they had failed. The pattern was becoming all too familiar, with Los Ticos negotiating their way out of the group phase only to come up against Mexico or USA and tumble out of the competition.

Fortunately for the Costa Ricans that frustrating story finally came to an end in this year's CONCACAF qualifying competition in Mexico, when they defeated the host nation en route to the final and a place at Dubai 2009.

The present
In their first match in the group phase Los Tricolores had to fight hard before securing a 3-0 win over a stubborn Bahamas side. Their place in the semis secure, Costa Rica then crashed to a heavy 6-1 defeat to old foes USA, which did not bode well for their hopes of reaching the final.

Los Ticos learnt their lesson well, however, holding their own against feared semi-final opponents Mexico. Blunting the hosts' attacks with some astute tactics, the Costa Ricans forced a shootout when Richard Sterling scored in the final period and squeezed into the final courtesy of a 2-1 spot-kick win.

The future
After seeing his side finally break their qualification duck, coach Christian Ovares is certain Costa Rica will do themselves justice on their first appearance at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup. "Having beaten Mexico at home in front of thousands of fans we deserve to be in the finals more than anyone. I think we showed what we are made of and that we are one of the top 16 sides in the world."

Facts and figures
Key players
Greiven Pacheco, Richard Sterling, Enrico Regidor, Jose Pablo Calvo

Qualifying statistics
Costa Rica ended the CONCACAF qualifying tournament with a record of won two lost two after going down 6-3 to El Salvador in the final.

The numbers game
27 - The average age of the side that qualified for Dubai 2009.