By Olawale Ajimotokan
Nigeria will capitalize on its new status as African champions by making an unprecedented altitudinal climb in the FIFA monthly World ranking.
The next world ranking is due for announcement by the international football governing body today (February 14). But ahead of the release, the Eagles will jump from their present 52nd position in the world to a projected 28th position or better.
The improved ranking is the direct consequence of the Super Eagles performance in South Africa where they beat Ivory Coast, Mali, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso to lift the Africa Cup of Nations.
The Eagles also drew with former champions, Zambia and the Burkinabe in their opening group matches.
With total of 174 points gained from their Africa Cup of Nations expedition where they shocked pre tournament favourites, Ivory Coast in the quarter finals, Nigeria’s projected points in World ranking is expected to stand at 747 points, which will be a jump from the 573 points it earned before the start of Africa’s party house football fiesta on January 19.
The improved status will, however, not redefine the continent’s balance of power as Cote d’Ivoire, Mali and Ghana are expected to occupy the top three positions in Africa.
At best, Algeria which was rated No 2 in Africa before the Nations Cup will plummet on the table after its ego was deflated in South Africa. The north-Africans will wither by three steps, while Nigeria will soar as Africa’s No 4 nation. The projection for Mali is 804 points, while that of Algeria is 725 points.
Nigeria went to the Africa Cup of Nations as the continent’s No 8th ranked country, and after coach, Stephen Keshi executed a successful campaign in South Africa after 19-year wait, the Nigerian public will be delighted with an improved global ranking following a sustained slide before the Nations Cup.
Cote d’Ivoire will not only remain as Africa’s highest ranked nation, the Elephants, who underachieved at the Nations Cup, are expected to climb over Switzerland from 14th to 13th in the world with 999 points in the kitty in relation to the Swiss whose points haul will shrink to 993.
Nigeria and other African teams that excelled in South Africa will profit from the Nations Cup which attracts high points by virtue of being a confederation tournament.
FIFA employs a number of complex procedures in determining the monthly world ranking, ranging from the strength of the opposition, the outcome of the match and the importance of the fixture, among other variables.