TANZANIA's Taifa Stars have climbed four places in the world football rankings to end the year in 130th position.
According to the latest release issued on Wednesday by world football governing body, FIFA in Zurich, Switzerland, Tanzania tallied 253 points, a 16-point increase from last November's 237. The country also scaled four places on the continent to rest on 38th place.
The rise is largely down to Mainland's Kilimanjaro Stars' performance at the recently concluded CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup, in which the team reached the semi-final stage, before losing to eventual winners and hosts, Uganda Cranes 3-0. In the tournament, Kim Poulsen's boys won three matches, while losing same number of games.
They launched their campaign with a 2-0 win over Sudan, slipped to a 1-0 defeat to Burundi in a match they largely dominated. The Stars, then, bounced back strongly to sweep aside Somalia 7-0 in their last group match and comfortably beat Rwanda 2-0 in the quarterfinals to stroll into the semis.
They also lost third-winner playoff against Zanzibar Heroes, though the match was not considered by FIFA. The results of 143 internationals have been taken into account for the current edition of the FIFA World Ranking. Uganda remains the region's best ranked side on 84th position.
Burundi who stunned Kilimanjaro Stars 1-0 during the regional championship made a giant leap as they moved 24 places to finish the year in 104th position. Sudan, defeated 2-0 by Kilimanjaro Stars in the opening match of the Challenge Cup, climbed up one place to 101th.
And despite slipping eight places, Ethiopia remained superior to Tanzania, as they currently ranked 110th. In total in 2012, the results of 900 matches have been taken into account, more than half of which were friendlies (465, 52 per cent) and more than a quarter of which were qualifying matches for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil (257, 29 cent).
Tanzania fell out of the top 100 from the FIFA rankings in 2009 and has since struggled to come back. The nation's highest ranking by FIFA was 65th and that was in February 1995. The top ten may have remained the same, but there were a few shuffles elsewhere on 2012's last installment of the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking.
Spain will finish the year at the summit for the fifth time in succession - an achievement which earns them the 'Team of the Year' title - followed by Germany, Argentina and Italy (4th, up 1). The 'Mover of the Year' goes to Colombia for the second time since the FIFA/ Coca-Cola World Ranking was introduced in 1993.
Los Cafeteros finished 2011 in 36th, but thanks to six wins, one draw and only one defeat thereafter - and the 455 points they consequently earned - they end 2012 in fifth. It has also been a very successful year for Ecuador (13th, up 365 points since December 2011) and Mali (25th, up 337 points since December 2011).
Over the course of the year, the regional composition of the top 50 has only slightly changed: whereas the number of teams from UEFA (27 teams in the top 50), CONMEBOL (9), CONCACAF (3) and the OFC (0) remained the same, CAF (8, plus 1) finished the year with one team more in the top 50, at the expense of the AFC (3, minus 1).