Belfast Telegraph

NI set to hit new heights by rising to 22nd in Fifa World Rankings

 

By Steven Beacom

Northern Ireland are set to enjoy a Fifa World Rankings high this week and move into an impressive 22nd place on the list.

The latest rankings will be published on Thursday and they promise to bring fantastic news for Michael O'Neill's side following last month's victories over New Zealand and Azerbaijan.

Northern Ireland currently stand in 28th place, but according to ESPN will jump six places to claim their highest position since rankings began in 1993.

It is a far cry from early in O'Neill's reign in September 2012 when the team found themselves at an all-time low of 129th.

Since then, Northern Ireland have reached the knockout stages of the Euro 2016 finals and have every chance of making it to next year's World Cup in Russia.

The previous best for Northern Ireland was 25th in June last year, but the last-gasp 1-0 World Cup win in Azerbaijan courtesy of an injury-time Stuart Dallas strike and a friendly success at home to New Zealand by the same score with Liam Boyce on target helped break new ground.

Should Northern Ireland finish second in their World Cup qualifying group, the rankings may determine who O'Neill's side would face in a play-off.

The latest projected rankings suggest Northern Ireland will be an incredible 10 places ABOVE the Netherlands.

World champions Germany are set to return to the top spot. England will be in 13th place and Wales 20th.

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