Little movement at the top
© AFP

After an eventful 2008, in which 1,060 international matches were played, 2009 has started slowly but surely. January's FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking takes into account the 27 senior international matches played so far this year as well as 20 matches played in the second half of December 2008. This has led to the status quo being preserved at the top of the ranking, with the top 14 positions remaining unchanged and Spain retaining a comfortable lead over nearest rivals Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Brazil.

Indeed, the only climbers in the top 20 are Egypt (15th, up 1) and Nigeria (17th, up 2). Costa Rica (47th, up 6) are the only team currently in the top 50 to have risen more than five places, thus earning a place among the world's 50 best teams for the first time since July 2007. Lithuania are the only other team to move into the top 50, while the other movers in the ranking are predominantly from Asia or Africa. The Gulf Cup in Oman and the CECAFA Cup in Uganda, both currently under way, are two tournaments that have already had a positive effect on the positions of some of the teams taking part. For example, the Gambia (75th, up 13), Vietnam (138th, up 17) and Somalia (178th, up 22) have all climbed more than 10 places. The remaining matches in these tournaments will be taken into account in the February ranking.