The past
Asian giants in 11-a-side terms, Iran swiftly transitioned their success on to the sand. Although they missed out on a place at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Rio de Janeiro 2005, they secured their presence at the world finals in both 2006 and 2007, and repeated the feat earlier this year by booking a place at Marseille 2008.

The present
Despite a 2-1 loss to Japan in their Asian qualifying group, Iran advanced toe the semi-finals courtesy of a 5-2 win over tournament debutants Philippines. However, the Iranians then fell 3-1 to United Arab Emirates, leaving them with a winner-takes-all play-off with China PR for third place and the continent's final ticket to Marseille 2008. Fortunately for coach Farssad Falahtzadeh, his charges turned in their best performance of the campaign, winning 4-1 to reach their third consecutive FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup.

The future
Boasting a talented crop of players and an inherent never-say-die attitude, Iran are capable of upsetting more traditional powers. They proved this at last year's FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup on the Copacabana, where, after losing to Portugal on penalties, they beat European giants Spain 5-4 in their final group game. Coach Falahtzadeh singled out the team's fighting spirit as a reason for their qualification for Marseille 2008. "I am very proud of the spirit our players showed as after losing to UAE and Japan and being one goal down against China, they still found the mental strength to go through," he said.

Facts

Former stars
Hamed Ghorbanpour Davisaraye (Best goalkeeper during the 2006 Asian Championship); Mohammad Ahmadzadeh (second-highest scorer during the 2006 Asian Championship with eight goals).

Key players
Farid Boloukbashi, who scored a brace in Iran's crucial 4-1 win over China.

Qualifying statistics
Iran scored 11 times and conceding eight en route to Marseille 2008.

The numbers game
3 - The number of times Iran have qualified for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup.