The past
Argentina are undoubtedly one of South America's finest performers in the beach soccer arena, having appeared at each of the last three editions of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup. They are yet to shatter the glass ceiling of the quarter-finals however, having lost out to Brazil at this stage in 2005 and Uruguay in 2006. The Uruguay loss was particularly heartbreaking as the Albiceleste were seconds away from a semi-final berth before going down 2-1. At the 2007 event, they failed to progress to the knockout stages after losing on penalties to France in their final group game.

The present
Argentina have come on leaps and bounds ever since Hector Petrasso drew a line under his playing days and took over the role of national coach. Few were surprised by the level of maturity shown by Petrasso's charges in qualifying for Marseille 2008, the team coming close to a group-phase exit before bouncing back to finish runners-up behind the mighty Brazil. Key factors behind their success are the safe hands of keeper Marcelo Salgueiro and the goalscoring prowess of Ezequiel Lopez Hilaire.

The future
"We've worked hard in recent years in a bid to improve and it's a real honour to have qualified for the first World Cup outside Brazil. Let's hope that in Marseille we're able to perform better than we did in Rio de Janeiro last year," said coach Petrasso after qualifying was assured.

Facts and figures

Former stars
Hector Petrasso (2005)

Key players
Marcelo Salgueiro (goalkeeper), Gustavo Casado (defender), Facundo Minici (pivot) and Ezequiel Lopez Hilaire (wide player)

Qualifying statistics
Argentina played five matches at the Sudamericano tournament, winning four games (once after extra time) and losing once, scoring 20 goals and conceding 14. Ezequiel Lopez Hilaire top scored for the Albiceleste with seven strikes.

The numbers game
3: Argentina have reached the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cups, in 2005, 2006 and 2007. Marseille will be their fourth consecutive world finals.