Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Northern Ireland senior squad set to tumble in Fifa rankings

Northern Ireland could drop a massive 22 places in the Fifa rankings after Tuesday night's 2-0 defeat against Israel.

Predictions drawn up after this week's international fixtures suggest that Northern Ireland will fall from their current position of 97th to 119th – just 10 places above the country's worst ever ranking in September 2012.

While many criticise the validity of the system, the fact that the rankings are used to seed teams for qualification draws may have a major impact on O'Neill's team.

Northern Ireland were in the fourth pot for the Brazil 2014 World Cup qualifying draw, but there is no a very real fear of a drop into the fifth pot for the Euro 2016 draw, which will take place in March 2014.

The Fifa rankings take into account results over a four year period and the back-to-back home wins over Poland and Slovenia in March/April 2009 will no longer count when the next table comes out on April 11.

Since then Northern Ireland have won just twice.

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