Belgium retain top spot in FIFA rankings as 2016 begins, with Eurocentric top 10
India climbed 3 places to 163rd in the rankings, with other Asian and African countries also climbing upwards
Belgium began 2016 in the same manner as they ended 2015, standing atop the FIFA National Team Rankings with 1494 points. Argentina and Spain are 2nd and 3rd in the recently updated rankings respectively, as the standings remain largely unchanged from last month.
The Rode Duivels achieved their #1 status for the first time in their history back in November, and have held on to top spot largely due to the lack of games played in December. The Top 50 are mostly unchanged with only Iran, Sweden and Guinea moving upwards slightly.
The top 10 is still unchanged, with 6 European (UEFA) teams and 4 South American (CONMEBOL) teams proving where football’s dominant powers originate from. The Ivory Coast are the highest ranked African (CAF) team in 19th, while Mexico are the top dogs in Central America (CONCACAF) in 23rd. Iran moved up two places to be the highest ranked Asian (AFC) team in 43rd place, with New Zealand being the highest among the minnows of Oceania (OFC) in 150th.
Asian and African fixtures result in upward movement
The 16 games that were considered by FIFA for this month’s updated rankings all involved Asian and African teams, with Europe enjoying a winter break. Afghanistan were involved in the most number of games, playing 5 times in the recently concluded SAFF Suzuki Cup, which was won by India in injury time.
India moved up 3 places in the FIFA rankings upto to 163 as a result, with Afghanistan dropping 3 places to 153rd. Sri Lanka were also beneficiaries of their SAFF Cup semifinal exit, climbing 6 places to 188th in the rankings. However, Thailand were the biggest movers in the month of December, climbing up 12 places to their best rank in five years, 121.
Africa also saw a number of countries move up, with Zambia, Rwanda and Tanzania respectively climbing 6,10 and 6 places to 67th, 91st and 126th in the rankings. However, Uganda climbed 1 spot to 67th , their best ever FIFA ranking, a feat they shared with Asian minnows Kyrgyzstan who also reached an all time high of 107th in the rankings.