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Super Eagles of Nigeria Striker, Kelechi Iheanacho celebrate his goal with teammates after scoring against Egypt at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon…yesterday.

• Belgium still world’s number one team

Despite failing to cross the second round of the Cameroun 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, Nigeria still progressed in the recent Coca-Cola FIFA rankings released yesterday. New African champions, Senegal, maintained their number one position in the continent after winning their first CAF Africa Cup of Nations title last weekend.

In fact, the Lions of Teranga have climbed to 18th in this edition of the FIFA/Coca-Cola world ranking, their highest ever position. Unsurprisingly, the Cup of Nations generated most of the movement seen in the year’s first edition of the ranking.

Aside from Senegal, the highest ranked African nation in the standings, Cameroun (38, + 12), who finished third at the African Cup, and runners-up Egypt (34, + 11) have made the most significant moves within the Top 50. Other notable movers were Canada (33, + 7) and Costa Rica (42, + 7), on the back of stellar performances during their Qatar 2022 qualifiers in the CONCACAF zone.

Nigeria rose from 36th position in December to 32 in the latest ranking. However, the biggest jump of all this month was by Gambia (125, + 25), the Scorpions ascending 25 places courtesy of their run to the quarterfinals at the African Cup. Equatorial Guinea, who also reached the last eight at the tournament, climb 15 places and are now in the Top 100.

Other notable rises were those of Malawi (119, + 10) and Gabon (82, + 7). For their part, Mali (48, + 5) made more modest gains but nonetheless broke in to the Top 50.

With eight of its teams now in the Top 50 (up one this edition), CAF has consolidated its third place in terms of confederation ranking, to the detriment of the AFC (four teams in the Top 50, a fall of 1). The other confederations have the same number of representatives as in the December 2021 ranking: 26 for UEFA, eight for CONMEBOL, four for CONCACAF and none for OFC.

Argentina (fourth, + 1) used the international window to take fourth place from England (fifth, – 1), following impressive results in the South American World Cup qualifiers. Belgium (one, unchanged) remain in pole position ahead of Brazil (two, unchanged) and France (three, unchanged).

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