Out of the 207 teams listed in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, it must have been a little bit disconcerting for fans of Pakistani football to see their team in the bottom 30. But that is precisely what happened in April, when they fell to 177th; their lowest place in the Ranking since October 2007. However, some good results in qualifying for the 2010 AFC Challenge Cup have helped the Greenshirts rise to 167th - and become the month's third best mover in the process.
Pakistan impressed in their opening two qualifying matches in Sri Lanka last month, drawing 1-1 with Chinese Taipei before firing six goals without reply past Brunei Darussalam. But their good work was undermined by a disappointing 2-2 draw with hosts Sri Lanka in their final match, a result which saw them concede Group D's qualifying spot to the South Asian islanders.
It was a case of history repeating itself for Pakistan, as they finished in second place behind Sri Lanka at the same event two years ago. But despite the near miss, their results had some reward, as they resulted in a ten place climb to 167th in this month's FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking.
The man currently at the helm of Pakistan is George Kottan, an Austrian who was appointed in February, just six weeks before the tournament took place. Having spent the past eight years with a handful of club and international teams in south Asia, including Bangladesh, who he guided to a surprise win at the 2003 SAFF Championship, it is hoped that Kottan will take Pakistan to a higher level.
The Austrian wasted no time in calling British-based midfielders Adnan Ahmed and Atif Bashir to his squad for April's qualifiers. Indeed, his decision paid-off in the opening game, as it was Ahmed who cancelled out Han Chang's early goal in the match against Chinese Taipei. The Tranmere Rovers player was also on target in the next match against Brunei Darussalam, netting his side's sixth goal of the game.
Kottan and his charges must now go back to the drawing board in the hope that he can inspire the Greenshirts to emulate Pakistan's achievements of the 1960s, when they boasted a competitive side who were capable of causing upsets against some of Asia's big teams.
The recent years have seen the Pakistan FA going to great lengths to revive their footballing fortunes, with their infrastructure largely improved with aid from FIFA's Goal Project and a new 14-team Pakistan Premier League established in 2004.
Calculation of points for a single match
P = M x I x T x C
M: points for Match result
Teams gain 3 points for a victory, 1 point for a draw and 0 points for a defeat. In a penalty shoot-out, the winning team gains 2 points and the losing team gains 1 point.
I: Importance of match
Friendly match (including small competitions): I = 1.0
FIFA World Cup™ qualifier or confederation-level qualifier: I = 2.5
Confederation-level final competition or FIFA Confederations Cup: I = 3.0
FIFA World Cup™ final competition: I = 4.0
T: strength of opposing Team
The strength of the opponents is based on the formula: 200 – the ranking position of the opponents.As an exception to this formula, the team at the top of the ranking is always assigned the value 200 and the teams ranked 150th and below are assigned a minimum value of 50. The ranking position is taken from the opponents’ ranking in the most recently published FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking.
C: strength of Confederation
When calculating matches between teams from different confederations, the mean value of the confederations to which the two competing teams belong is used. The strength of a confederation is calculated on the basis of the number of victories by that confederation at the last three FIFA World Cup™ competitions (see following page). Their values are as follows:
|Points Last Month|
|Points outside Ranking calculation|