By KUNLE SOLAJA
Despite an impressive showing at the just concluded African Nations Championship (CHAN) in South Africa, the Super Eagles have further plunged deeper in the monthly ranking that FIFA will release on Thursday.
Nigeria will almost drop out of the top 50 in the world, as the Super Eagles’ point haul of 616 will see the team in 47th position from 41 in January. Also in Africa, Nigeria had further dropped from seventh position last month to eighth, following a flurry of changes in continental ranking.
Nigeria’s all-time worst ranking was in November 1999, when the country was rated 82nd in the world.
In Africa, Cameroon and Tunisia had overtaken Nigeria, just as Ghana also dropped from number two in Africa to the fourth. North African teams, Algeria and Egypt moved up to second and third positions respectively, leaving Cote d’Ivoire on top, but with six-point loss to drop from 17th in the world to number 19.
Nigeria’s drop was due to the devaluation of matches played four years ago as most were no longer in reckoning. The values of matches depreciate with age. Sometimes, such depreciation yield positive results for some countries, as it happened to Egypt, Algeria, Cape Verde, Tunisia and Cameroon, which had not been active since the beginning of the year.
In the case of Nigeria, matches played before the 1-0 defeat of Benin at the Africa Cup of Nations in Angola 2010 had been deleted from the ranking, leaving the country with few matches won in 2010.
For 2010, Nigeria had 14 matches played and did not defeat any team that had higher rating than the Super Eagles. In the 14 matches considered, the Super Eagles won five in regulation time, while a sixth, match against Zambia, was won in a penalty shoot-out and therefore did not carry full points. The average of the 14 matches was depreciated by 20 per cent.
While Nigeria dropped down the ranking ladder, its World Cup group opponents continued to float atop. Argentina with 1,251 points remains South America’s best and third in the world.
Bosnia Herzegovina moved two steps up from 19th position to 17th. The point haul also appreciated from 899 to 917. Iran dropped slightly from 34th position to number 35 in the world. It is not only Nigeria that crashed in the ranking despite good results this year. Ghana’s points dropped from 851 last month to 745, despite reaching the final of CHAN and losing just on penalties.
For Nigeria, it is going to take some time before the Super Eagles will break into the top 20 again. The last time the Super Eagles ranked among the top 20 was April 2010 before the gradual, but steady decline set in.