Nigeria among top 10 movers as FIFA crowns Belgium Team of the Year
Belgium had a record-breaking year where the Red Devils held on to a top spot in a December table barely impacted by just 19 friendlies in which 1,082 international “A” matches were played – an all-time high since the ranking’s 1993 inception.
World champions France remain in second place ahead of Brazil in third, the positions they held in December 2018, but the make-up of the year-end top five has changed, with England climbing one place in 2019 to end the year in fourth and Uruguay moving up to fifth on the back of a two-spot rise. Argentina (9th) and Colombia (10th) are also in the top ten at the expense of Switzerland (12th) and Denmark (16th), who have slipped four and six places respectively over the course of the year.
UEFA lost three places in the top 50 compared to the end of 2018, and now has 28 teams, whereas Concacaf (4), the AFC (4) and CAF (4) have all gained one spot apiece.
In 2019, Belgium won all 10 of their international “A” matches and in the process qualified for UEFA EURO 2020, a competition in which they will surely be one of the major contenders.
The top 10 movers of 2019 came from four confederations, namely the AFC (Qatar, Japan, Iraq), CAF (Algeria, Nigeria, Madagascar), Concacaf (Mexico, Haiti), and UEFA (Italy, Kosovo).
Nigeria occupies the 31st position and remain the third best-ranked team in Africa. This means that the Super Eagles will not meet any of the top 10 teams in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers’ first round.
Nigeria will be in pot one when the draw is held at the Nile Ritz-Carlton in Cairo, Egypt on January 21.
The nine countries the Super Eagles cannot face in the second round of the World Cup qualifiers are Senegal, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Ghana, Egypt, Cameroon, Mali and the Democratic Republic of Congo as they are among the top ten ranked African nations and will be seeded for the purposes of the draw.
Nigeria’s rivals for a ticket to the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations are Benin, Sierra Leone and Lesotho, who are ranked 84th, 118th and 139th respectively in the world.
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