A jump of seven places in the latest FIFA/Coca-Cola World Rankings is one of several timely boosts for the hosts of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ in recent weeks. With the country one week away from the opening match of the tournament at Johannesburg’s Soccer City, South Africa have had an upturn in fortunes after a strict, and, at times, Spartan training regime imposed by experienced Brazilian coach Carlos Alberto Parreira.
Bafana Bafana are now up to 83rd in the latest rankings, after winning two and drawing the other of three preparatory matches during the ranking period. They beat Jamaica 2-0 at the end of their three-week camp in Germany, and they then returned home to beat Thailand 4-0 in a match that marked the opening of the new Mbombela Stadium.
It was followed by a bustling 1-1 draw with a strong Bulgarian side in a match that Parreira described as the best they had played over the last months, despite the result ending in a stalemate. Two subsequent wins, as the team continued to build momentum and fine-tune their squad ahead of the start of the tournament, are likely to lift the country even further up the rankings when the next poll is released just days after the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals. Bafana beat Colombia 2-1 in the first international played at the newly revamped Soccer City stadium last week and on Monday, they racked up a record 5-0 score line in dismissing the challenge of Guatemala.
South Africa are still a long way off their all-time highest ranking - 16th place achieved in August of 1996 - but the jump is a welcome change after their steady slide down the rankings over the last years. Bafana Bafana have had a difficult few years in terms of results but now seem to have found confidence and form at just the right moment. Parreira took a squad of domestically based players for lengthy training camps in both Brazil and Germany where they have worked on their physical fitness and played various match-ups with tough club and national team opponents.
South Africa’s Premier League closed early in March to allow Parreira to work with the best players, a decision now seemingly paying dividends. In the last weeks he has also integrated the team with those based at European clubs, although he surprised many observers by omitting striker Benni McCarthy from the final 23-man squad for the World Cup. It is a strong message that the host nation will be all business when they kick off the finals against Mexico on 11 June.
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|