Algeria has again become the king of African football after a brief stint under Cape Verde in the FIFA Rankings. The recent FIFA rankings placed Algeria on position 33 in the world, placing Cape Verde on position 47 in the world. This comes after Algeria thrashed Ethiopia 7-1 in an African Cup of Nations qualifier and then drew 3-3 in Addis Ababa. Cape Verde was defeated 2-0 by Morocco. The current position therefore puts Algeria on top of African rankings followed by Ivory Coast, Ghana, Senegal and Egypt in that order. Cape Verde is sixth.
Algeria was ranked 33rd in the world, where Argentina, Belgium, Chile, Columbia and Germany are the world’s best five national teams for the month of April. A major upset is that of Nigeria which is now positioned 14th in Africa after bowing out of the AFCON finals following a 1-0 defeat to Egypt. Egypt itself has seen better days making its 44th position a shadow of past glory. As already said, Cape Verde is 6th in Africa and 47th in the world while Tunisia comes 7th and 47th in the world too. The Democratic Republic of Congo is at 51 in the world and 8th in Africa. Guinea is positioned at 58 in the world and 9th in Africa while Congo is placed 10th and 59th in the world.
The world rankings come after the international break when African national teams played AFCON 2017 qualifiers. In the qualifiers Egypt need a single point after a 1-0 win over Nigeria. The team has won a record seven titles and will be looking to participate and make an impact in 2017. Meanwhile, the Nigerian team will be watching the games from the crowd after the loss. Nigeria did not qualify for Equatorial Guinea in 2015 too thus starting a worrying trend. Is Nigerian football on the brink of its demise?
Senegal also needs a single point after winning 2-1 over Niger thus putting them 6 points clear. Youssef El Arabi’s brace against Cape Verde also means Morocco are a single point from qualification. Cameroon’s goalless draw with South Africa also means they are close to qualification while the South African side is left with a toll order of winning by big margins to stand a chance of qualifying. South Africa will also have to hope for favourable results all over Africa so as to secure a place in the soccer showcase in Gabon next year. The odds seem against Bafana Bafana. Liberia thrashed Djibouti 5-0 at home while the Democratic Republic of Congo punished Angola with a solid two goals to nil in an away fixture. Joel Kimwaki and Jonathan Bolingi were the men on the mark for Democratic Republic of Congo. Guinea beat Malawi 2-1 while Togo and Tunisia had a zero goal stalemate. Zimbabwe gave Swaziland a monumental pounding with a 4-0 result that put them on top of the group with a three point cushion over Swaziland.
As it stands, the group leaders are Liberia for A, Congo DR for B, Mali for C, Burkina Faso and Uganda for D, Guinea Bissau for E and Morocco for Group F. Egypt leads Group G, Ghana is comfortably ahead in H, Gabon in I, Algeria in J, Senegal in K, Zimbabwe in L and Cameroon is king in Group M. Most teams save for those in Group G are left with two fixtures in June and in September before Gabon 2017. Nigeria and South Africa have been the biggest casualties of the current qualifiers and they are rightly ranked 67 and 70 respectively on the FIFA rankings for their poor performance. This puts these former African footballing Goliaths below the likes of Panama and Uzbekistan. The Nigerian team holds the record for highest ever position on the worldwide rankings for an African country- position 5. While the giants fell, Guinea Bissau climbed 45 places to 102nd in the world. A former champion, Egypt is also seeing a renaissance as it climbed into the top five of the continent after conspicuous absences from the continent’s top footballing fiesta. Cape Verde’s Cinderella story ends now but it was worth the surprise. The country is still in the top flight of African football and cannot be taken for granted (except by Morocco)
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