Several confederation competitions are leaving a deep impression on the October FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking. Although Brazil are hanging on to top place, world champions Italy (up 3) are hot on their heels, having gained 66 impressive points since September. Germany (6th, up 2) and Greece (14th, up 8), both of whom, like Italy, have won their recent EURO qualifying matches, are also flying high.

There are also some conquering heroes halfway down the ranking. Mali (41st, up 19) and Northern Ireland (45th, up 13) have now returned to the top 50 after a long absence. Mali have never had it so good as in the October FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, whereas the last time Northern Ireland breathed top 50 air was over ten years ago.

Several other teams have jumped up at least thirty places, including Burkina Faso (64th, up 33), Cape Verde Islands (83rd, up 30), Haiti (83rd, up 35), St Vincent and the Grenadines (85th, up 44), and Barbados (100th, up 52).

Of the 125 international matches played last month, 96 were confederation championship qualifiers: UEFA (44 matches), CONCACAF (19), AFC (11) and CAF (22). Twenty-nine friendlies were also contested.

- The next FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking will be published on 22 November 2006.