Portugal

The past
Since missing out on the first three FIFA Futsal World Cups, Portugal have become a familiar sight at the sport’s showpiece event. Thailand 2012 will be the Lusitanians’ fourth consecutive appearance at the finals. Their best showing to date came on their debut appearance at Guatemala 2000, where they finished third after losing to Brazil in the semis and defeating Russia in the match for third place. Four years later in Chinese Taipei, they failed to survive the second group phase, while last time out in Brazil they fell at the first hurdle.

The present
With the nucleus of the squad from Brazil 2008 back for more, Portugal were simply too strong for their group rivals in the regional qualifying tournament. In the main round, they swept aside Lithuania (3-0), France (6-0) and Slovakia (5-1), then made light work of their play-off opponents Belarus, securing their place in Thailand with an 11-2 aggregate victory.

The future
“Of course it’s possible for us to improve on our 2008 World Cup performance. We have great potential and an excellent bunch of players, some of whom are among the best in the world. What’s important now is that we harness this potential,” said coach Jorge Braz after his side’s 4-1 second leg win over Belarus.

Facts and figures
Key players
Joao Benedito, Cardinal, Pedro Cary, Ricardinho.

Qualifying in numbers
Portugal won all five of their games en route to Thailand. In total they scored 25 goals and conceded three. Their top scorer was Cardinal with seven, followed by Ricardinho on five.

The stat
7 – Cardinal’s seven goals made him the top scorer in the European qualifiers for Thailand 2012. Meanwhile, veteran team-mate Ricardinho topped the assist’s chart with five.