USA will bring in another new year as the top-ranked women’s national team after holding on to top spot in the final FIFA Women's World Ranking of 2017.

This is the third year in succession that has ended with the Stars & Stripes on top, and it came in an edition that included less predictable moves further down the order.

Most notable, perhaps, is Australia (4th, up 2) entering the top five for the first time. The Matildas have ascended to this record-high position on the back of a spectacular seven-match winning run that has included victories over Brazil, China PR, Japan and ranking leaders USA.

Australia swapping places with France (6th, down 2), Brazil (8th, up 1) and Sweden (10th, up 1) each moving up a spot at the expense of Japan (9th, down 1) and Korea DPR (11th, down 1) respectively, are the only changes in the top ten.

Germany’s (2nd, unchanged) shock home loss to Iceland (20th, up 1) in FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifying - the greatest upset, in terms of ranking points exchanged, since June 2015 - removed any prospect of the two-time world champions knocking USA off their perch, and almost cost them second spot. The Germans now sit at all-time low of 2052 points, just 19 clear of England (3rd, unchanged) - their smallest lead over another European nation since 2009.

The latest ranking does include plenty of success stories though, with Spain (13th, up 4) and Republic of Ireland (29th, up 4) making identical leaps on the back of impressive results in Europe’s Women World Cup qualifiers. The Irish claimed this month’s biggest points haul (48), and there were also notable climbs for Northern Ireland (55th, up 5) and Kosovo (up 97th, up 8).

The rise of the Kosovans was largely indebted to the departure from the ranking of seven erstwhile higher-placed African teams due to a period of prolonged inactivity: Côte d'Ivoire, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Senegal, Guinea and Burkina Faso. However, Madagascar (117th) and Mauritius entered the ranking for the first time, while Argentina (36th), Mozambique (109th), Malawi (110th), Lesotho (111th) and Swaziland (113th) all made comebacks. 

The next FIFA/Coca-Cola Women’s World Ranking will be published on 23 March 2018.

Leader

USA

Moves into top ten

Sweden (10th, up 1)

Moves out of top ten

Korea DPR (11th, down 1)

Matches played in total

129

Most matches played

Brazil (7)

Biggest move by points

Republic of Ireland (up 48)

Biggest move by ranks

Kosovo (97th, up 8)

Biggest drop by points

Slovakia (down 57)

Biggest drop by ranks

Israel (62nd, down 7)

Newly ranked teams (re-entries unless otherwise stated)

Argentina, Mozambique, Malawi, Lesotho, Swaziland, Madagascar (first entry) and Mauritius (first entry)

Teams no longer ranked due to prolonged inactivity

Côte d'Ivoire, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Senegal, Guinea and Burkina Faso