12 April 2013

Tanzania: Stars Up In Fifa Rankings

KIM Poulsen's Taifa Stars continue their steady progress in the world football governing body, monthly FIFA rankings, moving three steps upwards thanks to a World Cup qualifying win over Morocco.

The rankings which were released yesterday in Zurich by FIFA now see Tanzania ranked 116th after raking up 305 points, it also moves three places up in the Africa ranking though remains on 33rd from last month.

This is the second consecutive move by Taifa Stars in two months following a winning run in international friendly matches and FIFA World Cup qualifier. The nation leaped up massive eight places in the last edition of the global ladder, which is still led by World Cup champions Spain.

Taifa Stars posted one of the country's most outstanding results in the World Cup qualifiers when they thrashed favourites Morocco 3-1 at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam on March 25, this year.

The victory came from three second half goals from TP Mazembe duos Thomas Ulimwengu and Mbwana Samatta as the Stars kept alive their hopes of a dream ticket for the first ever World Cup appearance.

The results meant the Stars maintained their second spot in Group C with six points from two victories, putting huge pressure on leaders Ivory Coast who are on top of the standings with seven points.

When Kim Poulsen assumed the Tanzania reins in May 2012, the Taifa Stars were ranked 145th on the rankings and 42nd in Africa. In less than a year, the Dane has helped the team improve its position in the world rankings.

Tanzania has only once managed to qualify for the CAF Africa Cup of Nations. That was in 1980, when two defeats and one draw was not enough to see the country escape the first round. Her ranking story has been similarly disappointing, reaching their all-time low in October 2005, when it was 175th in the world.

Although it climbed to 89th in December 2007, the country was caught in a downward spiral since then. But there is no denying that Tanzanian football is on the up, and if the Taifa Stars continue to develop at the current rate then returning to two digits in the rankings is certainly a realistic long-term aim.

Meanwhile, five-time World Cup winners Brazil have fallen to 19th in the FIFA world rankings, their lowest ever position. Brazil are hosting the 2014 World Cup but a lack of competitive matches has seen them drop to their worst placing since the rankings began in 1993.

Spain remains top of the rankings, ahead of Germany, Argentina and Croatia. Ivory Coast, in 12th, are the highest-placed African side. Brazil, who won the World Cup in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002, were ranked as the best team in the world as recently as May 2010, but are now below Greece (13th), Switzerland (15th) and Belgium (16th).

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