The only Asian team to have participated in the three previous FIFA Beach Soccer World Cups, Japan are an established force on the continent. Reaching the semi-finals at the inaugural tournament in 2005 proved they could also mix it with the world's elite. Curiously, though, the Japanese have yet to win the Asian Championship, losing out to Bahrain in the 2006 decider before successive final defeats by United Arab Emirates.
Japan did, nonetheless, flex their muscles during this year's Asian qualifiers to Marseille 2008, an 8-2 reverse of Philippines preceding a 2-1 victory over Iran and finally a 7-1 defeat of China PR to thrust them into the final, where they lost 4-3 to the hosts.
Japan are among Asia's most attacking-conscious teams. Under the tutelage of former striker Takeshi Kawaharazuka, who topped the Asian Championship scoring chart with eight goals in 2006, they scored 20 goals in four matches to seal their passage to south-east France. Shusei Yamauchi was the side's stand-out performer and his 12 goals, which included a hat-trick in the final, made him the tournament's leading marksman. "It is not important how many goals I scored," he said. "I am only a part of a team where everyone fights for each other."
Eiichi Kato, Takeshi Kawaharazuka
Japan finished as the top scorers during UAE 2008, although they were ultimately edged by the host nation in the final.
The numbers game
4 - The number of times Japan have qualified for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup.