Amid the glitz and the glamour of the FIFA World Player Gala 2005, a smaller yet equally significant accolade will be announced. The Best Mover 2005 will be revealed to the world at the ceremony at Zurich's Opera House and four teams - Ethiopia, Ghana, Switzerland and Togo - have realistic hopes of clinching the title, which last year was won by China PR.
The destiny of the 'Best Mover' award is determined by multiplying the total amount of points a team has at the end of 2005 by the number of points gained during the course of the year. The more points a team already has, the more difficult it is to gain points. Therefore, the three qualifiers for the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™ (Ghana, Switzerland and Togo), plus the CECAFA Cup winners (Ethiopia) stand an excellent chance of success.
FIFA.com takes a look at each of the four contenders to see why 2005 has been such a vintage year....
Ethiopia - up 23 places since December 2004
2005 record: Played 7, Won 5, Drawn 1, Lost 1
After the successful defence of the East and Central Africa Senior Challenge Cup (CECAFA Cup) in Kigali, Rwanda on the 10 December, Ethiopia's credentials for being the Best Mover 2005 have been strengthened considerably.
A second half goal from Andualem Negussie, who was dismissed two minutes from the end of the match for time-wasting, was enough to give the Ethiopian side a memorable victory against the hosts in front of 25,000 fans at the Amahoro Stadium.
The tournament, which began for Ethiopia on the 27 November saw them remain undefeated in their six games. An opening draw with Uganda (0-0) was followed by a flurry of victories against Sudan (3-1), Djibouti (6-0), Somalia (3-1) and Zanzibar (4-0) before the single goal success against Rwanda.
Ghana - up 27 places since December 2004
2005 record: Played 8, Won 5, Drawn 3
A little over 18 months ago, Ghana slipped to their lowest-ever position of 89th in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, but 2005 has seen them go eight games without defeat and qualify for the FIFA World Cup™ finals for the first time in their history.
The turnaround came a year ago when Serbian Ratomir Dujkovic took control of the Black Stars after impressing as manager of Rwanda. The signs of progress were evident in mid-June with a surprising but well-deserved 2-0 away win over South Africa in Johannesburg, which propelled them to the top of their qualifying group. They followed that up with a victory over Uganda in September and then a comprehensive 4-0 triumph away to the Cape Verde Islands in their final qualifier in Praia on 8 October to make sure of their place at next summer's showpiece.
The shining lights in this Black Stars team are captain Stephen Appiah and Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien - the most expensive player in the history of African football - who together with Udinese's skilful Sulley Ali Muntari, give Ghana a formidable-looking midfield. Up front, Asamoah Gyan and the Dutch-based Matthew Amoah, back after almost two years in the international wilderness, provide the firepower which has helped them reach 50th position in the Ranking.
Switzerland - up 15 places since December 2004
2005 record: Played 11, Won 6, Drawn 4, Lost 1
Before their second-leg defeat by Turkey in the play-off for a place at Germany 2006, Switzerland had gone a full year and 14 games without defeat, evidence of the growing strength of a team that includes players who attracted rave reviews at various youth levels. Indeed, their line-up in the play-offs featured Tranquillo Barnetta and Philippe Senderos, both of whom claimed UEFA European U-17 Championship winner's medals in 2002.
Jakob 'Koebi' Kuhn's men remained undefeated throughout their qualifying campaign in Group 4 of the European Zone, collecting 18 points from ten fixtures. The highlights of a solid campaign included two draws against France and the Republic of Ireland, although in the tightest of all the European sections, the Swiss remained on the edge of their seats until the very end of the campaign before edging out Israel for second place.
As well as securing a place at next summer's FIFA World Cup finals, Switzerland have also enjoyed a leap up the FIFA Coca/Cola World Ranking. The year began with Kuhn's men in 51st position, but their recent run has lifted them to 36th.
Togo - up 33 places since December 2004
2005 record: Played 9, Won 6, Drawn 1, Lost 2
Under the guidance of Stephen Keshi who was appointed as the coach of Togo in the spring of 2004, the tiny west African nation have been constantly progressing. They have played 17 matches with him in charge, winning 10, drawing four and losing just three. Togo have also managed to score 26 goals in that time, all of which helps to account for why Monaco's Emmanuel Sheyi Adebayor and his team-mates have kept marching up the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking.
The last time they were beaten in an official competition was in June 2004, when they lost their opening FIFA World Cup group qualifier to Zambia in Lusaka. Since then, though, the Togolese have swept aside teams with far greater reputations on the African stage, with Senegal, Mali, Zambia and Morocco just some of the sides to have suffered losses to the team known in Africa as the Hawks.
It has been quite a transformation, particularly considering that Togo were ranked a lowly 94th in the world following that defeat to Zambia. At that time, few would have considered them as potential qualifiers for Germany 2006, nor would many have imagined the inroads the team would go on to make in the global standings. Indeed, thanks to their first-ever qualification for a FIFA World Cup finals, Togo now lie 56th in the Ranking.