Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco are in the top five African sides on the FIFA Ranking
FIFA.com shines the spotlight on their progress
Algeria missed out on Russia 2018
The leading African team on the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, Senegal had not lost since the final of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations 2019 against Algeria. However, that run came to end on 9 October, when the Lions of Teranga went down 3-1 to Morocco in a friendly. The result leaves Tunisia, their nearest African rivals on the global ladder, snapping at their heels.
Following the latest edition of the FIFA Ranking, we shine the spotlight on three Maghreb sides very much in form: Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco.
Les Aigles de Carthage may not have moved up, but they have narrowed the gap on 21st-placed Senegal. In contrast to the Lions of Teranga, Tunisia continued an unbeaten run dating back to a 2-1 reverse by Côte d’Ivoire in September 2019. During the last international break, they beat Sudan 3-0 and held Nigeria to a draw four days later.
Anis Ben Slimane (Brondby) made his first full international appearances during these two friendlies and proved an immediate success. The Denmark-born teenager capped a superb performance against Sudan with a goal and was also convincing in his central-midfield role against a powerful Super Eagles side. Fair to say, he looks a very good option for coach Mondher Kebaier.
"We must build on what we’ve already achieved and not start again from scratch. We need to use the positive work of previous coaches, each of whom had his personal choices., said Tunisia coach Mondher Kebaier to FIFA.com.
0 - The most recent Tunisia squad had no recognised centre-forwards. Instead the versatile Whabi Kazhri was tasked with leading the line in both matches and, while he did not manage to score, he did provide two assists.
Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers: double-header against Tanzania in November
Qatar 2022 qualifiers: Group B
After a five-place climb up the latter (only Malta did better), Les Fennecs also extended an impressive run that has now seen them unbeaten in 20 games. Most recently, they triumphed over Nigeria (1-0) and then drew with Mexico (2-2), a year after beating another top-20 team, Colombia (3-0).
The last line of defence against Nigeria’s impressive strike force was Alexandre Oukidja. In just his third game for the senior team, the Algerian keeper ably contributed to his side's victory with a solid performance. Yet to concede a goal for Les Fennecs, Oukidja must now be a serious contender for the No1 jersey hitherto held by Rais M'Bolhi, who was twice beaten against Mexico four days later.
"We won't win all our matches, that's for sure. One day we will lose, but I want us to lose to a team that has had to sweat for it and fight all the way for their victory," said Algeria coach Djamel Belmadi.
4 – The number of games that Algeria now need to stay unbeaten for to match the current African record held by Egypt.
Cup of Nations qualifiers: double header against Zimbabwe in November
Qatar 2022 qualifiers: Group A
After their superb win over Senegal (3-1), the Atlas Lions failed to hit the same heights against Congo DR and had to settle for a draw (1-1), which was still enough for them to ascend four places in the global standings. Morocco are now the fifth highest-ranked African nation (immediately behind Nigeria), having occupied 39th place for the first time since 2007.
Having got on the score-sheet against Senegal and provided a vital assist against Congo DR, Youssef El Arabi proved again that he can deliver when it matters, despite his 33 years and stiff competition from a young crop led by Sevilla striker Youssef En-Nesyri.
"It's a little disappointing. I wanted a win, but we didn't play like we did against Senegal," said Morocco coach Vahid Halilhodzic after the draw against Congo DR
6 – The number of different youth categories Aymen Barkok represented for Germany before finally opting for the Atlas Lions. Dazzling against Senegal, the Eintracht Frankfurt attacking midfielder made it a debut to remember with one assist.
Cup of Nations qualifiers: double header against Central African Republic in November
Qatar 2022 qualifiers: Group I