The stars of the beach on show in Rio
While the likes of Romario and Gustavo Poyet will no doubt grab plenty of headlines at this FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, the discipline has its own established stars. Allow FIFA.com to introduce you to the players with a low public profile but an abundance of talent.
If the Brazilian side could be said to rely on any one individual, it would be Jorginho. Widely regarded as THE best beach soccer player on the planet, Jorge Augusto Gabriel more than makes up for his slight build (1.74m and 69kg) with outstanding technique. Capable of mind-boggling moves, he is always 100% committed and can unlock an opposing defence single-handed. The second topscorer in the history of the Seleçao (246 goals), he looks to have plenty more goals left in him yet. Jorginho also finished the recent Copa America as second topscorer, with eight strikes in five matches. He is one safe bet to be among the goals in Rio.
Didier Samoun (France)
With a totally contrasting style, the Frenchman Didier Samoun has established himself among the world's top three beach soccer players over the past few years. Blessed with formidable physique and natural leadership skills, he is as impressive in defence as attack and vital to the tactical system used by Les Bleus. What is more, he is still only 24 and therefore represents the future of a French side who are the reigning European champions and have their sights set on higher accolades. The tournament is a heaven-sent opportunity for Didier to showcase his talent on the legendary beach at Copacabana.
The 'Beckham of the Beach'. With the face of an angel and a deadly left foot, Ramiro Figueiras Amarelle is looking to guide his team to victory in this first-ever FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup. A former professional with Deportivo La Coruna, Amarelle is currently right up there with the cream of beach soccer players worldwide. And while Spain may have underperformed at the last European Championship, they can soon reclaim their rightful place among the elite by beating Austria, Italy and Switzerland on 6 and 7 May. Whether they do so or not will, to a large extent, depend on the form of their formidable captain.
Júnior Negão (Brazil)
A model of discipline, this 40-year-old attacker has played at every one of the ten previous world championships. Consequently, he has accumulated nine medals so far, and his thirst for victory remains undiminished. Seemingly immune to the ravages of time, he was even named Most Spectacular Player of the Competition at the Copa America last March. With a total of 241 goals, he is the third topscorer in the history of the Seleçao and a guiding influence on the new generation of Brazilian players. Junior will be desperate to add the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup to his magnificent list of honours.
Born in Angola, João Vítor Tavares Peneda Saraiva, or 'Madjer' for short, is the undisputed star of Lusitanian beach soccer. A lanky goalscorer (1.94m and 76kg), he was named Best European Goalscorer and Player in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2004. A great admirer of his team-mate Alan and the Brazilian footballing wizard Ronaldinho, Madjer has clearly learned a thing or two from his heroes when it comes to scoring goals. Courtesy of his background in futsal, he has great flexibility in his ankles, enabling his left foot to find the target from almost any range and angle. Dynamic and skilful, he never spurns a chance to do something spectacular.
A naturalised Portuguese citizen born in Recife, Alan Cavalcanti obviously brought plenty of Brazilian flair with him when he left his motherland. Almost exclusively left-footed, the striker forms with Madjer one of the most formidable offensive pairings in the world. Topscorer at the 2001 World Championship, in Portugal's glory year, this linchpin of the side is equally adept at delivering the decisive pass. Having finished the last European Championship as a runner-up, Alan would dearly love to live up to the 'Brazilians of Europe' tag often given to the Portuguese.
A few more to watch out for : Neném, Benjamin, Romario (Brazil); Noël Sciortino, Jair Cardoso, Eric Cantona (France); Hernani, Belchior (Portugal); Francis Farberoff (USA); Ezequiel López Hilaire (Argentina); Sebastián Castro (Uruguay); Stephan Meier (Switzerland).