Belfast Telegraph

Biting Back: It's amazing the difference one win makes

By Steven Beacom

It's amazing what one victory can do. I'm talking about the Northern Ireland football team here.

That brilliant 2-1 win in Hungary earlier this month in the Euro 2016 qualifiers has not only given the long suffering Green and White Army hope that our wee country could be playing in a major finals for the first time since 1986, it has also moved Northern Ireland up the Fifa rankings in record breaking fashion.

In the latest rankings released yesterday, Northern Ireland enjoyed our biggest ever move up the list first published in 1993 – a whopping 24 places jumping from 95 to 71.

Agreed, we are still way off our highest place of 27, last achieved seven years ago, but it's a lot better than our worst position of 129th occupied just two years ago.

Before you start shouting that the Fifa rankings are a load of old rubbish and don't matter one little bit, please note that they are used to determine the seedings for World Cup and European Championship group draws, so the higher you can go the better.

Mind you, I will say that I truly believe we are a superior side to Jordan (the country, not the publicity seeking glamour model) who are two places above us on Fifa's most recent list.

The good news is that if Michael O'Neill's men keep winning, as they did against Hungary (who have just sacked their manager), soon we'll pass Jordan, Libya, Venezuela and others.

Heck, the Republic of Ireland are in 62nd so even Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane should be in our sights.

Belfast Telegraph

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