By Izuchukwu Okosi:
Nigeria’s poor results thus far in the 2015 African Nations Cup qualifiers has taken its toll on the ranking of the Super Eagles by FIFA as they plummeted by four places in the latest FIFA ranking which was released on Thursday.
The Eagles, who are African champions were beaten 3-2 at home by Congo on September 6 and managed to hold the Bafana Bafana of South Africa to a goalless draw four days later in Cape Town.
Nigeria were last month rated 33rd in the world, but now occupies the 37th place.
On the African continent, the Super Eagles are currently the 6th best national side behind Algeria, Cote d’ Ivoire, Tunisia, Ghana and Senegal. Cape Verde Islands, Cameroon, Guinea and Burkina Faso make up the ‘Top 10’ best teams in Africa.
Congo who defeated Stephen Keshi-coached Eagles at the UJ Eusene Stadium in Calabar, occupy the 11th spot while South Africa is 14th. Sudan who the African champions will play next in the 2015 AFCON qualifiers is ranked 40th on the continent.
This month’s biggest winners are Guatemala, whose three wins in four matches in the qualifiers for the CONCACAF Gold Cup 2015 have seen the team led by coach Ivan Franco Sopegno leap by 77 places to 57th on the table.
The win against World Cup participants Honduras yielded many of those points. With Iceland (34th, up 12), Congo (48th, up 30 aided by the ‘epic’ victory over Nigeria) and Antigua and Barbuda (80th, up 69), September 2014 saw three teams reaching their highest-ever position since the world ranking was introduced in 1993.
Of the 141 international “A” matches taken into account for this month’s ranking, over half of them (80) were continental qualifiers in Europe, Africa and CONCACAF, the other 61 fixtures being friendlies. This takes the total number of international “A” matches played in 2014 so far to 526.
World champions, Germany, remain on top of the ranking table and are followed in order in the ‘Top 10’ by Argentina, Colombia, Holland, Belgium, Brazil, Uruguay, Spain, France and Switzerland.
The next FIFA ranking will be released on October 23, 2014.