The Super Eagles celebrating Victor Moses’ opening goal against Algeria during their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium, Uyo… on Saturday. PHOTO: AFP.
For the first time in recent years, the Super Eagles of Nigeria have broken into the top 50 in the latest rankings released yesterday by the world football governing body (FIFA).
The Coach Gernot Rohr-led Eagles had finished in the 51st position at the end of 2016, but moved a step upward on the latest table. Nigeria now has a total of 619 points as against the 616 in their last ranking. The Super Eagles have also moved up to the seventh position in Africa as against their eighth place in December 2016.
Nigeria’s best placing in the FIFA rankings was fifth, a position attained in 1994 following an impressive display of winning the Africa Cup of Nations and their debut World Cup appearance that year in the United States.
Senegal, with a total of 743 points, remains the highest ranked African national team. The Senegalese is ranked 33 in the world, above Cup of Nations titleholders, Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire (34), Egypt (35), Tunisia (36), Algeria (39), Congo DR (49) and Nigeria (50) in the latest rankings.
All the countries, except Nigeria are already in Gabon to challenge for the 2017 African Cup of Nations, which will begin tomorrow and end on February 5.The Super Eagles and their counterparts from Saudi Arabia were two new teams to have broken into the top 50 in the latest FIFA’s ranking. Saudi Arabia (48th, up 6), and Nigeria (50th, up 1) move up at the expense of Albania (51st, down 2) and Burkina Faso (53rd, down 3). Only 12 “A” matches were played since the final ranking of 2016.
The top 34 positions of the ranking table remain unchanged with Argentina, Brazil and Germany still holding first, second and third place respectively.
However, the January’s best performers, both in points and rankings, were Suriname (128th, up 22). But the biggest move notwithstanding, the northern South American team is still some distance from their best-ever position (84th), recorded back in 2008.
The small southern African nation of Swaziland, meanwhile, reached its best-ever position in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking (99th, up 1).The next FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking will be published on 9 February 2017.