No thanks to recent slump, the Nigerian women’s football team, Super Falcons, have dropped three steps in FIFA’s periodical rankings. The Nigerian team is now 39th in the world. The loss to Cote d’Ivoire in the qualifying series for the 2020 Olympics might be one of the factors.

The next ranking will be released on 27 March 2020.

But while Nigeria experienced a drop in the year-end ranking, the USA will end 2019 as they began it: on top of the FIFA Women’s World Ranking.

Brazil will also head into 2020 in familiar territory, having made an immediate return to the top ten after dropping out in September for the first time in their history.

Having been rewarded for recent friendly wins over England (6th, down 1) and Canada (8th, down 1), the Brazilians (9th, up 2) are essentially the only notable climbers in the table’s upper echelons. Korea DPR (11th, down 2), with whom they have swapped places, have fallen due to not having played since the ranking’s last edition.

The big moves come further down the ladder, however, with CAF and CONCACAF’s Olympic qualifiers having produced the most significant recent upsets. In the latter region, St Kitts and Nevis’s (127th, up 7) stunning away victory over Trinidad and Tobago (72nd, down 11) has provided the biggest points haul, and it also took the victors through to the final stage of CONCACAF’s Tokyo 2020 preliminaries.

Kenya (133rd, up 10) also sent shock waves across women’s football recently by beating traditional African powerhouses Ghana (60th, down 10) over two legs. The scale of that surprise is reflected in the change in both teams’ ranking, while Congo DR (108th, up 10) – who have also enjoyed a double-digit rise – have been rewarded for an equally unlikely home win over Cameroon (49th, down 3).

This latest edition provides cause for celebration, too, for six countries who have improved on their previous record positions, with Belgium (17th, up 1), Chile (36th, up 1), Papua New Guinea (46th, up 1), Slovenia (50th, up 3), Panama (53rd, up 3) and Fiji (65th, up 3) all reaching new highs.

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