Portugal

The past
Portugal acquitted themselves in fine style on their first appearance at a FIFA Futsal World Cup, storming all the way to a third-place finish at Guatemala 2000. Having squeezed through to the finals after a hard-fought qualifying draw against Italy, the Portuguese lost just twice in eight encounters on Central American soil, those reverses coming against eventual finalists Spain and Brazil. At Chinese Taipei 2004, the Lusitanians just missed out on a semi-final berth after finishing third in their second-round group behind Spain and Italy - who both went on to reach the Final.

The present
Portugal finished a creditable fourth at the UEFA Futsal Championship 2007 on home soil, missing out on third place at the hands of Russia, themselves beaten by the Iberians in the third place play-off at Guatemala 2000. Portugal subsequently embarked on a sparkling qualifying campaign for this year's FIFA Futsal World Cup, beating group opponents Latvia 4-0, Slovakia 3-0 and Turkey 3-2 before a 9-1 aggregate defeat of Slovenia in the final two-legged qualifier.

The future
More than 20 years on from their first official match, played in the Spanish city of La Coruna in February 1987, Portugal are confident of causing a stir at Brazil 2008. "We're more mature and more experienced. Nowadays we're a team who play with real quality. It's all a result of the ability, hard work and commitment we've shown over a number of years - we've achieved a level of consistency. Our goal at the World Cup is to finish on the podium and improve on our performances at the European Championship," says Orlando Duarte, Portugal national coach.

Facts and figures

Key players
Joao Benedito, Israel, Pedro Costa, Ricardinho.

Qualifying statistics
4 wins, with 19 goals scored and 3 conceded.

The numbers game
1 - third-place finish at a FIFA Futsal World Cup