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Northern Ireland drop to worst FIFA world ranking in five years

 

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Northern Ireland's slip down the FIFA world rankings has continued.

Northern Ireland's slip down the FIFA world rankings has continued.

Northern Ireland's slip down the FIFA world rankings has continued.

Northern Ireland have dropped to their worst world ranking since 2015 in the latest FIFA update.

Following their Euro 2020 play-off final defeat to Slovakia and as their wait for a Nations League win continues, Ian Baraclough's side have slipped four places to 45th in the latest update released today.

It's a far cry from their best ever ranking of 20th, secured back in 2017, and continues what has been a gradual slip in the ensuing three year period.

The news rubber-stamps what we had already known - that Northern Ireland will enter the 2022 World Cup qualifying draw in pot three and face an uphill task to secure so much as a play-off place.

It means Northern Ireland could face two sides in the world's top 20, with Switzerland (16th) and Wales (18th) both in pot two.

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Northern Ireland, and the Republic, will be in Pot Three for the World Cup qualifiers. Table courtesy of FIFA.

Northern Ireland, and the Republic, will be in Pot Three for the World Cup qualifiers. Table courtesy of FIFA.

Northern Ireland, and the Republic, will be in Pot Three for the World Cup qualifiers. Table courtesy of FIFA.

 

The ten group winners will qualify automatically for the World Cup, set to be played in Qatar during November and December 2022.

There are two play-off places available to teams based on their UEFA Nations League performance but, after Northern Ireland were relegated into League C, they will have to finish as one of the 10 runners-up in the World Cup qualifying campaign to secure a spot in the play-offs.

Northern Ireland are still a long way off their worst ever world ranking of 129th, which was back in 2012.

In the latest update, there was also unsurprising bad news for the Republic of Ireland, Stephen Kenny's side down six places to 42nd. England remain in fourth behind Belgium, France and Brazil while Wales are up one spot to 18th but Scotland, despite their Euro 2020 qualification, are down three to 48th.

Belfast Telegraph


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