Nigeria Moves Five Places Up In Newly Released FIFA Rankings

Nigeria moved up from 57th to the 52nd position on the latest FIFA rankings released today by world football governing body, FIFA.

Seen as a positive impact on the Super Eagles this time, Nigeria is now rated 10th in Africa as against the old rating of 16th position.

Cote d’Ivoire placed 14th is still the highest ranked African country while Japan placed 22nd, is Asia’s best team. The Ivoirians are also first in Africa while Algeria moved up five places to occupy Africa’s second spot and 19th in the world.

Mali are third on the Africa rankings after the West African nation dropped one place and are now ranked 28th in the world.

The Eagles have experienced a gradual renaissance under Coach Stephen Keshi, who steered the team to January’s Africa Cup of Nations. The Nigerian side defeated Liberia 8-3 aggregate in their final qualification game to book a ticket to South Africa.

World and European champions, Spain, remain top of the rankings despite their 1-1 draw with France while Germany retained second position.

But Argentina leapfrogged Portugal (4) to climb to third in the standings after they recorded victories over Uruguay (who fell out of the top 10) and Chile in the past month to move up one place.

Italy completes the top five, rising with three positions following wins against Armenia and Denmark.

Brazil; hosts of the 2014 World Cup are 18th in the standings.

W.Cup Qualifying: Argentina tops group B as Messi shines

South American World Cup qualifying games were played yesterday in different parts of South America and Argentina became a force to reckon with as the Linel Messi-led squad crushed fellow South American country; Ecuador 4-0  as Argentina has became the leader of group B with the score-line,  thanks to Barcelona star, the Merciless Messi.

Argentina’s decision to play their four world class forwards was fully justified as Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria were on call within 11 minutes of the first half as three goals were recorded in quick succession.

Barcelona Star Lionel Messi once showed what he was known for, with his deft moves on field and magical display of skills as he has been doing while on call for his country; Argentina and Barcelona as he finally won over the crowd at the Monumental in Buenos Aires.

With the structured pattern displayed by Argentina, the squad was obviously centred on the Barcelona strike from attack to defence as he led the formation from back to front till the end of the match.

According to Coach Alejandro Sabella “We have to be a solid team, structured in defence and accompany Lionel so he can express himself to the full”.

Argentina lead the South American group with 10 points from five matches, one more point than Chile, who beat Bolivia 2-0 in La Paz, and two ahead of Uruguay and Venezuela who drew 1-1 in Montevideo.

The next challenge the South American side will be rooting to overcome is the friendly game with arch-rivals and World Cup hosts; Brazil which will be played in the United States next weekend.

Meanwhile in other games played in South America, Copa America holders Uruguay failed to end their Venezuela jinx, going a fifth World Cup qualifier in succession without beating their opponent.

Diego Forlan put Uruguay ahead at the Centenario when he extended his national scoring record to 33 in the 39th minute.

But, with little more than five minutes left, a header by Venezuela striker Jose Salomon Rondon had defender Diego Godin head the ball into his own net.

After the game, Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez told reporters while speaking for the players and his staff that they are all not pleased with the outcome of the game as they need to work harder to achieve good results which they desire.

Chile served notice they are still a force despite initial problems that included Coach Claudio Borghi suspending a quintet of players for breaking a curfew before a qualifier against Uruguay last November.

Borghi’s side notched up a third win as Chile made it three successive qualifying victories in the thin air of La Paz, absorbing pressure and hitting Bolivia on the break.

Forward Charles Aranguiz put Chile ahead in first-half added time and Bolivia’s hopes took a further dive when defender Luis Gutierrez was sent off early in the second half for a foul on Alexis Sanchez.

Bolivia’s coach Gustavo Quinteros, a member of the country’s last team to go to the finals in 1994 was also sent to the stands for protesting.

Midfielder Arturo Vidal, the only one of the five players disciplined in November to be pardoned and have his suspension reduced, made sure of the points with a second goal seven minutes from time netting a ball that came back off the post.

Bolivia, bottom of the group with one point from five matches, paid for their poor finishing when they dominated early on in both halves.

Peru, one from bottom with three points and looking to end a 32-year wait for a place in the finals, host Colombia in Lima today.