On the back of their runners-up spot at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Rio de Janeiro 2007, Mexico will be hoping to build on that success at Marseille 2008. And the Tricolor beach boys will be brimming with confidence after comfortably securing their place at the world showpiece by taking the CONCACAF title.
The Mexicans, playing on home sand in Puerto Vallerta, kicked off the regional qualifying tournament with a slightly nervy 4-2 victory over El Salvador, followed by a 7-0 thrashing of Costa Rica. And after the Cuscatlecos needed extra time to edge out the Ticos in their final match, El Tri's place in France was guaranteed, whatever the result of their clash with the United States. That did not stop Mexico getting one over their arch-rivals in a 2-1 win, thus denying the Stars and Stripes a ticket to Marseille.
After last year's surprise second-place in Brazil, Mexico will be determined to prove their performance on the Copacabana was no flash in the pan.
With that aim in mind, El Tri should line up with many of the same names who worked wonders in Rio, with the added bonus of a year's extra preparation and experience. The Mexicans also head to Marseille boosted by winning their first ever CONCACAF Beach Soccer title, and by claiming the notable scalp of 2005 world champions France at a competition on the island of La Reunion.
Though the omens are good for the Tricolor, the task awaiting them will not be easy. No longer surprise packages and able to catch their opponents unawares, they also must bear the burden of increased fans' expectations. Can Ramon Raya's charges cope with the pressure?
"We've got a great deal of responsibility, because now there's only step remaining and that would mean becoming world champions. We're going to approach this just like we did in Rio, but we'll work even harder and our goal will be to go as far as possible." Ramon Raya, Mexico coach, after sealing qualification for Marseille 2008.
Facts and figures
Mexico have a relatively short beach soccer history, which means the key figures in their recent success remain a part of the national team set-up.
Miguel Estrada (2007-present), Morgan Plata (2007-present), Ricardo Villalobos (2006-present), Oscar Gonzalez (2007-present)
Mexico won all three of their games at the regional qualifying tournament for Marseille 2008, which was held on home sand in Puerto Vallarta. Coach Ramon Raya's side scored 13 goals and conceded just three, and even defeated an international select side 5-2 in an end-of-tournament exhibition match.
The numbers game
3. The number of Mexican defeats in official matches over the last two years. Two came against reigning world champions Brazil, the third inflicted by fierce rivals the United States in qualifying for Rio de Janeiro 2007.