By Bushrah Yusuf-Badmus
Ilorin – Nigeria’s Super Eagles retained their spot as the world’s 31st team in the World Football Ranking for the month of December.
In the ranking table on the website of world football governing body FIFA on Thursday, Nigeria have garnered 1,493 points, same as they had in the November ranking.
The ranking still helped the team retained the third spot on the continent, behind Senegal and Tunisia.
On the global scene, Belgium are the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking’s Team of the Year for the second successive time after a record-breaking year on the global ladder.
The Red Devils have held on to top spot in a December table barely impacted by just 19 friendlies towards the end of the year.
It was a year in which 1,082 international “A” matches have been played, and that is an all-time high since the ranking’s inception in 1993.
World champions France remain in second place ahead of Brazil in third, the positions they held in December 2018.
However, the make-up of the year-end top five has changed.
England have climbed one place in 2019 to end the year in fourth, with Uruguay moving up to fifth on the back of a two-spot rise.
Argentina (9th) and Colombia (10th) are also in the top 10 at the expense of Switzerland (12th) and Denmark (16th).
Both have slipped four and six places respectively over the course of the year.
The ranking’s Mover of the Year, meanwhile, are Qatar who gained an impressive 138 points over the course of the year.
The FIFA World Cup 2022 hosts won the AFC Asian Cup and made a strong start to the Asian Zone World Cup qualifiers.
Besides accumulating the biggest points haul, Qatar have also jumped a year-high 38 places, followed closely by fellow climbers Algeria (up 32 ranks) and Japan (up 22 ranks).
Given the teams who have made the most progress in 2019, it is no surprise to find that the regional composition of the top 50 has changed over the year.
Along with this is the fact that Europe’s dominance has diminished.
UEFA has 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.
But in spite of all the changes witnessed over 2019, the year has ended on a quiet note.
It has witnessed only the most modest of movements due to the scarcity of fixtures since the ranking’s November edition.
Nonetheless, eight teams have all edged a single rung up the ladder, and will hope to continue that progress in 2020.
These are Bahrain (99th), Bolivia (75th), Korea Republic (40th), Lesotho (139th), the Solomon Islands (141st), South Africa (71st), St Kitts and Nevis (139th) and Suriname (141st).