Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland slip to 44th in Fifa world rankings

By Stuart McKinley

Northern Ireland have fallen two places in the latest Fifa World Rankings, despite losing just twice in their past seven fixtures over the last 12 months.

Michael O'Neill's side have dropped from 42nd in the world to 44th, although that constitutes a rise of four places from 48th this time last year.

Four years ago, shortly after O'Neill took over, Northern Ireland were outside the top 100 after suffering a 6-0 hammering to Holland in his second match.

Yesterday's 0-0 draw between Northern Ireland and the Republic won't count towards the next rankings as it wasn't considered to be an official international fixture and no caps will be awarded for the game.

O'Neill will have the chance to break into the top 40 when he leads his team into a Euro 2016 battle with Romania at Windsor Park next Saturday evening.

The Romanians, who won the corresponding fixture in Bucharest 2-0 last November, remain in 12th place - one above Italy and three ahead of England, who slipped a place.

The Republic of Ireland are back in the top 60 after moving up two places ahead of their friendly with England on Sunday.

Scotland fell two places to 28th while Wales have fallen one place to 22nd.

The Welsh play Belgium, who moved into second place behind World champions Germany, in a crunch European qualifier next week, with the sides level on points at the top of Group B.

Belfast Telegraph


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