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Friday, August 7, 2009

Cote d’Ivoire leads Africa

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Ivorien striker, Didier Drogba

Cote d’Ivoire is living to its billing as Elephants, after emerging the only African country in the world’s top 20 football ranking.

According to the latest FIFA ranking, the Ivoriens, now 18th in the world and first in Africa, have overtaken Cameroon, who slipped from number one to two.

The ranking were released on Wednesday from FIFA’s headquarters in Zurich.

Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions, which is now second in Africa, are ranked 29th, closely followed by Gabon, who are now third in Africa and 31st in the world.

Africa Cup of Nations holders, Egypt, moved from the 38th to the 33rd spot, largely as a result of their performance in last month’s Confederations Cup in South Africa.

Nigeria and Ghana slipped to the 34th and 35th positions respectively in the world ranking.

The Egyptians are fourth in Africa, while Nigeria’s Super Eagles are fifth, with Ghana’s Black Stars now sixth.

Algeria and Tunisia are the other African countries among the world’s top 50. While the Algerians are 47th, Tunisia are placed 49th.

However, at the top, there were no major shake-up as Brazil still remain the world’s number one, while European champions, Spain are in the second position.

The Netherlands are third while Germany are in fourth place and Italy occupy the fifth position. Russia and England are in the sixth and seventh spots respectively.

The U.S, runners up in last month’s Confederations Cup, are among the top 20, ranking 12th in the world.

Reacting to Nigeria’s 34th position, retired Emmanuel Okaro, said it would improve if the Super Eagles cleared the 2010 World Cup qualifying hurdles against Tunisia, Mozambique and Kenya.

Okaro, a former military sports chief, said Nigeria would have shot up in the ranking, if the Eagles had got the maximum points in the away tie against Tunisia in June.

He attributed Gabon’s high ranking to their away win over Morocco in the qualifiers.

Former Secretary-General of the Nigeria Football Association (now Nigeria Football Federation) Momodu Kadiri told NAN that the Super Eagles would bounce back to their former ranking, especially with the football federation deciding to work in harmony.

Kadiri, who was at the federation’s general assembly in Lokoja, said the federation had identified some of its pitfalls which it pledged to rectify.

The former secretary said the determination of the country’s soccer body to work harder would eventually pay off handsomely.

He urged the federation to always return to the drawing board whenever things failed to work out as projected.


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