Belfast Telegraph

At least we are still ahead of Qatar, just

By Graham Luney

New Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neil may have needed a timely pick-up after the 3-0 defeat to Norway but he was never going to get it from the latest Fifa world rankings.

Northern Ireland have slipped one place and are now just one place ahead of Qatar in 87th.

O’Neill’s side are now ranked 40th out of 53 countries in the Uefa Ranking Zone.

And that ranking is unlikely to improve in the near future with a daunting friendly fixture coming up in June against Holland in Amsterdam.

The Republic of Ireland, in full preparation mode for the summer’s European Championships, have moved up one spot to 19th.

World and European champions Spain remain top of the monthly charts.

The Dutch, who beat England 3-2 in a friendly, retook the No. 2 spot from Germany.

England slip to sixth, while Wales have dropped six to 48th, just in front of Scotland, who are joint 51st with Iran following a fall of three places.

The rankings weigh all international results over a rolling four-year period, and this month counted 91 matches including qualifiers for the World Cup and 2013 Cup of Nations, plus friendlies.

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