The UEFA qualifying competition for the FIFA Futsal World Cup
2008 opens on 28 February with the meeting between Belgium and
Montenegro in Buzau, where Belarus join host nation and European
championship participants Romania to complete the Group 5 line-up.
In Group 3, world and European champions Spain are clear favourites at home to Croatia and Georgia. Anything less than serene progress for the all-conquering Iberians would rate as a major surprise.
FIFA World Cup runners-up and European championship finalists Italy are also at home, welcoming Group 8 opponents Cyprus, Andorra and Kazakhstan to Pescara.
Russia, third at the European championships, complete the trio of the continent's strongest teams, although the east Europeans are likely to have a far from easy time of it in Group 1, where they take on France and European championship participants Serbia. The Serbs will not have forgotten their 5-3 defeat at the continental showdown and will see the latest match-up as an ideal chance for revenge.
In Group 4, England meet Hungary, FYR Macedonia and Poland. Two of the four teams have already appeared at a FIFA Futsal World Cup finals: Hungary contested the first global event in the Netherlands in 1989, with the Poles present at the 1992 edition in Hong Kong.
Six places at the finals are on offer to the 38 hopefuls. The group winners and the two best runners-up progress to a play-off round from 29 March to 16 April to determine UEFA's representatives.
The FIFA Futsal World Cup 2008 takes place in Brazil next October. The finals feature a starting field of 20 for the first time, distributed among the confederations as follows: AFC: 4, CAF: 2, CONCACAF: 3, CONMEBOL: 3 plus the host nation, OFC: 1, UEFA: 6.
The Final Draw takes place on 6 July in Brasilia.