USA stay top as Beijing beckons
© AFP

With just two months to go until the Women's Olympic Football Tournament, the undisputed highlight of 2008 for the world's leading teams, there is no change at the top. The six favourites to claim a medal are all in the positions that they occupied in the last edition of the ranking.

The USA still lead the way ahead of Germany, the second row is occupied by Sweden and Brazil, and slightly further back are Norway and Korea DPR. The 26 matches at the Olympics, which will be worth as many ranking points as games in the FIFA Women's World Cup, will surely make a huge impression on the upper reaches of September's ranking.

Teams in the top 50 to jump more than two places include the Republic of Ireland (28th, up three), Vietnam (32nd, up five), Austria (38th, up four), Trinidad & Tobago (41st, up three) and Costa Rica (45th, up three).

Further down the table, Slovenia (54th), the Faroe Islands (71st) and Senegal (81st) have all made significant progress by climbing more than five places. There is less positive news for five South American associations, however. After a period of inactivity stretching back 18 months to the Copa América in November 2006, Chile, Bolivia, Colombia, Peru and Venezuela are no longer in the ranking and are therefore currently listed at the end of the table.

The FIFA Women's World Ranking was first published in July 2003 to rate some 150 FIFA member associations on the basis of several factors including victories, home advantage, the strength of the opposition and the importance of matches. The ranking is published four times each year. According to FIFA's Big Count survey in 2006, 26 million women and girls around the world currently play football.