Geneva: The concluding 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ qualifiers have made their mark on the latest FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, with Senegal and the winners of the European zone play-offs among the biggest climbers.
The Lions of Teranga have, in fact, risen to 23rd – their highest-ever position on the global ladder – on the back of securing a first World Cup place since 2002. They are now the top-ranked African nation, having leapfrogged fellow Russia 2018 qualifiers Tunisia (27th, up 1) and Egypt (31st, down 1).
Europe’s play-off kings are also on the up, with Switzerland (8th, up 3), Denmark (12th, up 7), Croatia (17th, up 1) and Sweden (18th, up 7) having climbed a combined total of 18 places. The Swiss have, as a result, returned to the top ten, while the Swedes earned this edition’s highest points total following their 1-0 aggregate win over four-time world champions Italy.
The Italians (14th, up 1), for their part, are one of four top 20-ranked teams to miss out on Russia 2018, with Chile (10th, down 1), Wales (19th, down 5), and Netherlands (20th, unchanged) making up that unfortunate quartet.
The ranking’s top five – Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina and Belgium – will be heading to the global finals, and all maintained their positions from the October edition. They will, though, be mindful of Spain looming in the rearview mirror, with La Roja having moved into sixth, passing France and Poland on the way.
Elsewhere, Palestine (82, up 2), Luxembourg (84, up 9) and Chinese Taipei (135, up 8) all joined Senegal in reaching their best ranking positions to date. There were also notable leaps forward by Korea DPR (114, up 18), Lebanon (87, up 13), Burkina Faso (44, up 11), and Indonesia (154, up 11).