Germany gaining ground on USA again

The record-breaking 159 matches played in the final phase of qualifying for the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011™ have caused a rare shake-up in the latest edition of the FIFA/Coca-Cola Women’s World Ranking.

The USA’s sensational defeat to Mexico not only cost the perennial winners direct qualification for the FIFA Women's World Cup, but also more than halved their lead over world champions Germany. The USA will now have to seek salvation against 11th-placed Italy.

The North American qualification matches gave a boost to winners Canada, who have climbed to ninth place (up 4), their best-ever position, which they reached once before in mid-2008. Other than Canada’s climb and England’s loss of one place (10th, down 1), the top ten remains unchanged. Denmark, who lost at home to Switzerland, not only missed out on World Cup qualification by some margin, they also lost a good deal of points (14th, down 4).

The unrivalled highest climbers of the last few weeks are African runners-up Equatorial Guinea. Their good performances and second-place finish in the African qualifiers earned them almost 50 points and a jump of eight places, landing them their best-ever position in the ranking (62nd).

Five other teams can also celebrate their best position since the ranking was introduced in 2003: Korea Republic (18th), Colombia (32nd), Costa Rica (41st), Chile (46th) and Wales (47th). As has been the case over the last 20 years, the FIFA Women's World Cup preliminary competition has proved to be the driving force behind international women’s football, with 11 teams making a return to the ranking, which now lists a record 127 teams.

The next FIFA/Coca-Cola Women’s World Ranking will be published on 18 March 2011.