With 850 men’s matches and 304 women’s matches, the 2009 footballing year saw a slight decrease in the number of international 'A' matches played in comparison with the previous year. The decrease comes as little surprise, however, since fewer games are traditionally played in the last year of World Cup qualifying than at the beginning of the campaign. While 425 qualifying matches for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ were played in 2008, there were 'only' 332 in 2009.
No fewer than four teams from the upper echelons of the World Ranking remained undefeated in 2009: Portugal, the Netherlands, Nigeria and Côte d’Ivoire did not lose a single match and all managed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, though some more easily than others. Spain’s incredible success story came to an end in 2009, when the European champions’ run of 35 unbeaten matches was broken abruptly with their semi-final defeat to the USA in the FIFA Confederations Cup.
The men’s representative teams of 178 of FIFA’s 208 member associations played at least one international 'A' match, while 84 women’s representative teams also made at least one appearance. In the women’s game, Finland played the most matches (20), while for the men it was Honduras and the USA (24). The average number of matches per team was considerably lower than the previous year, with 9.6 in men’s football and 7.2 in women’s.
The most valuable match in terms of the FIFA World Ranking was Brazil’s 3-0 victory over reigning world champions Italy at the Confederations Cup in South Africa. In women’s football, the USA’s 1-0 away win in a friendly against Germany generated the most points.
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