Italy make top spot for second time in history
The FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking has a new leader: Italy. Following a successful year for the 2006 FIFA World Cup TM winners, Italy have managed to topple Brazil and reclaim the top spot for the first time since November 1993, ending Brazil’s remarkable 55-month run at the top of the leader board. For their part, the South Americans recently suffered a 0-2 friendly defeat to Portugal, currently ranked 8th. There is otherwise no change in the top five: Brazil are followed by Argentina, France and Germany. Spain return to the top ten for the first time since October last year (10th, up2). Larger losses in February can be most clearly seen among the African teams: Cameroon (17th, down 6), Nigeria (36th, down 27), Egypt (42nd, down 23), Tunisia (45th, down 13), and Guinea (62nd, down 40) all slip down to ranking. All five teams have suffered from the depreciation in points of African Nation s Cup matches played in January 2006. On a more positive note, several African teams improved their position over the past few weeks, with Ghana (22nd, up 6), Burkina Faso (57th, up 5) and 2010 FIFA World Cup TM hosts South Africa (59th, up 10) making notable gains.
Central America has also seen improvements, with four teams climbing more than ten positions in the last month due to successful qualifying campaigns for the next Gold Cup: Costa Rica (54th, up 12), Trinidad and Tobago (68th, up 19), Guatemala (87th, up 18) and El Salvador (125th, up 31). Trinidad and Tobago can also lay claim to the highest point-scoring match in February’s ranking due to their 3-1 defeat of fellow CONCACAF member Cuba in a recent continental qualifier.
This month’s ranking covers 87 new matches, most of them friendlies (74), with the remaining 13 games classed as continental qualifiers (Gold Cup, EURO 2008).