The Africa Cup of Nations has had a major impact on the first FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking of the year. While Spain continue to occupy top spot ahead of Brazil and the Netherlands, Egypt managed to climb 14 places to tenth place after they successfully defended their title at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations in Angola.

This is not only Egypt’s highest-ever position in the ranking, but also the second-highest of any African team since the introduction of the ranking. They have only been bettered by Nigeria, who reached fifth place in April 1994. Other African teams also benefited from their performances in Angola. In the upper echelons of the ranking, semi-finalists Nigeria (15th, up 7) and finalists Ghana (27th, up 7) made considerable strides. Further down the ranking, Zambia (73rd, up 11) and Malawi (82nd, up 17) also made good progress.

Ahead of the FIFA World Cup™ in South Africa, an analysis of the strengths of each of the eight groups will doubtless prove interesting. In general, it is noteworthy that Group G is the only one to have two teams from the top ten (Brazil and Portugal), while Italy are the only representatives from the top 20 in Group F. Bearing in mind that only two teams from each group will go on to the round of 16, the “tightness” of the groups and the gap between the second and third team could prove particularly significant. With this in mind, two groups promise to be particularly exciting: there are very few points separating Mexico and Uruguay in Group A and Chile and Switzerland in Group H.

A total of 82 international “A” matches were taken into account for this edition of the ranking, 15 of which were played in 2009 (total of 849 “A” matches played in 2009). In addition to the 29 matches played in the Africa Cup of Nations, 11 continental qualifying matches and 42 friendlies were played.