By John Egbokhan
Nigeriaâ€™s Super Eagles have dropped to the 34th spot in the July edition of the FIFA world rankings that have Confederations Cup winners, Brazil returning to the top on Wednesday, for the first time since August 2007, by jumping four places and knocking European champions Spain down to second spot.
The Nigerian side, who were on the 30th spot in last monthâ€™s edition, dropped four slots, losing ground to the likes of Ivory Coast, now ranked 18, Cameroon, who are 29th on the table and Gabon, who gained 18 places, courtesy of a perfect run in the 2010 World Cup and Nations Cup qualifying race.
Nigeriaâ€™s slump could be linked to their poor form given that Eagles have scooped only four points from their last two World Cup qualifiers against Kenya and Tunisia. In fact, the decline was due to the fact that the likes of Ivory Coast and Gabon were impressive in their games, where they have managed to win all their three matches.
Elsewhere on the continent, Bafana Bafanaâ€™s gallant showing in the Confederations Cup has resulted in South Africa climbing up two places in the FIFA world rankings to 70th position, while disappointing performances by Iraq (94th, down 17) and New Zealand (100th, down 18) caused them to lose ground.
Of the other countries that took part in the Confederations Cup are finalists USA (12th, up two), and Egypt (38th, up two).
Egyptâ€™s improved position, despite their early exit from the tournament, is due to their 1_0 victory over world champions Italy, which scored very highly in terms of ranking points.
Algeria (47th, up 19) and Tunisia (49th, up two) have climbed into the top 50 at the expense of Burkina Faso (51st, down one) and Finland (52nd, down three). Netherlands have dropped to third ahead of world champions Italy while Germany fall two places to fifth. Russia were the second_biggest movers in the top 10, rising from ninth to sixth ahead of England, Argentina and France.
Confederations Cup finalists the United States moved up two spots to 12th, while 15th_placed Denmark are back in the top 20 one position above Australia who have climbed from 29th.
The rankings are based on performances over the last four years.