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Eagles fly into FIFA’s top 20

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By John Egbokhan
As the world keeps counting down to the first World Cup to hold on the African continent, cheery news, yesterday, came the way of Eagles’ Technical Adviser, Lars Lagerback, who would be delighted to know Nigeria have climbed two places to 20th in the latest world rankings released by the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA).


According to the rankings released in the Zurich headquarters of the world football controlling body, the Nigerian side, who were ranked 22nd last month, are now the third highest ranked

African team on the log, while Brazil have overtaken Spain as the top ranked team in the globe.
Egypt, who are three-time defending Nations Cup champions, are still the highest ranked African team in the poll, notching up one place into 13th, despite the setback of not being amongst the six teams that would be hoping to do Africa proud at the 2010 showpiece in South Africa.

Also, World Cup-bound, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon, have jumped one position to perch on the 19th spot, ahead of Nigeria, who are having an unsettled preparations for the World Cup, given the failure of the players to commit to being part of the pre-World Cup meeting and training session, earlier scheduled for April 27 and 28 in the United Kingdom.

But Lagerback, who is in Durban right now, to inspect facilities at Eagles World Cup base, would be hoping that his side’s rise in the ranking would positively impact their campaign at the tournament proper. He hopes that his players would cash in on the domino impact of being amongst the top 20 teams in the penultimate months of the World Cup.

Nigeria’s best position in the rankings was the fifth spot they attained shortly after the conclusion of the 1994 World Cup in the United States of America but subsequent releases have seen the team plummeting down the ladder, owing to poor results by the Super Eagles.

Yesterday’s changes in the rankings are coming despite many countries not having played any matches in the last month, so the changes in this edition are due to the devaluation of past results.

Some teams have actually gained points due to the fact that the devaluation of poor results has led to a greater weighting of successful matches.

But there are likely to be big movements in May’s rankings, the last before the Mundial as the World Cup finalists play friendly matches to get into the perfect shape for the tournament which kicks off on June 11 at the Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg. The tournament ends exactly a month later.

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