USA retain top spot
© Foto-net

For the first time in the history of the FIFA/Coca-Cola Women's World Ranking, Germany are not in the top spot at the end of the year. The USA did not move to the top of the ranking directly after winning gold at the Olympics in Beijing, however. As was the case last year, it was the Algarve Cup, at which Germany were once again unconvincing, that proved crucial in allowing a change at the top.

The USA's overall performance has been impressive: they recorded 33 victories, two draws and only one defeat (to Norway in the opening match of the Olympic Football Tournament). For the first time, Brazil (3rd) have overtaken the two strongest Scandinavian teams as well as Korea DPR, whose youth teams qualified for the final in two FIFA competitions.

The standout moment of the last three months was host Equatorial Guinea's victory in the African Women's Championship, in particular their remarkable wins over favourites Nigeria in the semi-final and South Africa in the final. Their efforts earned them 80 points and a 12-position jump (from 84th to 72nd). The year's other big winners include Congo (87th, new in the ranking), South Africa (58th, up 16), Laos (79th, up 13), Tunisia (76th, up 13) and Slovenia (51st), who along with Equatorial Guinea and three other associations jumped 12 positions.

As expected, the total of 364 women's international matches played in 2008 was well below the figure for the previous year, when the qualifiers for the FIFA Women's World Cup™ were under way. A total of 150 teams are included in the ranking, but barely 100 of those were active.