Qatar's National Football Team Shoots Up FIFA World Rankings
Following on from the National Team's successes at the CONCACAF Gold Cup 2021 tournament and the joint FIFA 2022 Asian World Cup and AFC 2023 Asian Cup qualifiers, Qatar has shot up the world rankings from 58th to 42nd. Not only has the national squad risen an admirable sixteen places, making them the highest mover on the chart, but they have also reached their highest-ever position since the system's inception. Not bad for a national team who, until relatively recently, were deemed minnows on the international football scene.
The FIFA World Football Rankings, running since 1993, provide a system by which national teams in association football are ranked according to their performance - with the most successful teams ranked the highest. The teams are ranked monthly and awarded an annual rank per year. The performance indicators are based on game results from all FIFA-recognised full international matches. Currently, 210 teams are ranked by FIFA - Belgium sits at the top spot and Anguilla at the bottom.
Qatar’s Ranking History
Qatar's most recent FIFA ranking is undoubtedly something to be celebrated. Until this sixteen spot leap-up the world rankings, the team's highest position was their entry rank of 54th back in 1993. Since the early 90s, they have had mixed fortunes. During the remainder of the 90s, Qatar moved up and down the chart between 60th and 107th. From the early 2000s to as recently as 2018, the team fared no better. They achieved a high of just 62nd in 2002 and an all-time low of 112th in 2010. As hosts of the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup, the team's credibility on the international footballing scene left a lot to be desired. However, under Felix Sanchez's management from 2017, and with the 2022 tournament on the horizon, the current squad began to forge a new path.
In just a couple of years, Sanchez, who had previous success leading the Qatar national teams for the under-19s, 20s and 23s, assembled one of the best senior Qatari line-ups in the team's history. That team has since had great success continentally and internationally. In 2019, the current squad became Asian champions winning the 2019 Asian Cup. During that year, the team was ranked 54th in the world (and once again best-mover on the chart for that year, storming up by 38 spots). More recently, they topped their qualifying group for the next Asian Cup in 2023, reached the semi-finals of the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup, and confidently held their own as guests at the UEFA 2022 World Cup qualifiers. Beginning 2021 in 58th position, the team's recent performances have propelled them up to their current, highest-ever position of 42nd.
In 42nd place, Qatar, the 5th best team in Asia, sits above Norway - Europe's 23rd best team (out of 55) and Costa Rica - North America's 3rd best team (out of 35). They also sit one point below Russia - the 2018 World Cup hosts and Europe's 22nd best team, and two points below Venezuela, football giants, South America's 8th best team (out of 10).
The Only Way Is Up
With just four months left in 2021, Qatar has several opportunities to increase its tally on the world rankings even further. In September, the team head back to Europe to continue their appearances as guests at the UEFA 2022 World Cup qualifiers. Then, in December, the Round of 16 of the first FIFA Arab Cup will kick-off, pitting sixteen of the best Arab teams against one another to be crowned the world's best. If Qatar can continue to hold their own in Europe, which up against Serbia and Portugal will be a significant achievement, and lead the pack at the Arab Cup, surely the only way is up!
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