By George Aluo
Super Eagles have continued to rise in the FIFA ranking released today by the world soccer governing body.
Courtesy of Nigeria’s fine run in the AFCON qualifiers, the Eagles have climbed to 44 in the world moving four places up from 48. In Africa, Eagles are third on the ladder behind Tunisia and Senegal.
Last month, Belgium joined France in becoming the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking’s first-ever joint leaders. Now the Red Devils are in sole possession of top spot, albeit by the narrowest possible margin – 1733 ranking points to Les Bleus’ 1732.
The top two remain out in front after a month in which each of them enjoyed a win and a draw, with Belgium and France beating Switzerland (8th, unchanged) and Germany (14th, down two) respectively in the UEFA Nations League and emerging with honours even from matches against the Netherlands (15th, up 2) and Iceland (36th, unchanged) respectively.
The Dutch, meanwhile, have risen on the back of a fine 3-0 Nations League win over their struggling German rivals, and other sides have also profited from success in the same competition. England (5th, up 1), for example, have swapped places with Uruguay (6th, down 1) after winning 3-2 away to Spain (9th, unchanged), while Norway (48th, up 4) have moved into the top 50 after back-to-back victories, and Russia (41st, up 5) have also maintained their recent momentum by staying top of Group 2.
Gibraltar (190th, up 8), though, were undoubtedly October’s biggest Nations League success story, and their first-ever competitive wins, against Armenia (101st, down 1) and Lichtenstein (182nd, down 4), are reflected in a record ranking position – and this month’s biggest rise.
The Gibraltarians are one of just six teams to have ascended more than five places, and the only team in Europe to have done so. The others all hail from Africa, where Egypt (58th, up 6), Madagascar (100th, up 6), Namibia (109th, up 7), Zimbabwe (110th, up 7) and Burundi (142nd, up 6) have all made significant gains on the back of strong results in the CAF Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
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