Malawi national football team, the Flames, have made a surprise five-step leap, from position 111 to 106, on the latest Fifa Coca-Cola rankings released Thursday.
The Flames, whose last involvement in international football ended in a disastrous three-game winless and scoreless streak at the Cosafa Castle Cup in South Africa, are ranked 30th out of 54 national teams in Africa.
Malawi is on position six out of 14 national teams in southern Africa. The rankings are calculated using an average of results in recent years and strength of opposition, among many variables.
Malawi’s best ranking was in 1993 when it rose to position 67 and its worst was 138 in 2008.
The rankings reflect the standard of football in a country and are used as a benchmark when courting teams for friendlies. Top teams also look at the rankings when signing foreign players.
Malawi has no player in any league in Europe, whereas top-ranked sides, such as Cameroon, have over 30 players in big leagues across the world.
Big clubs go for players from countries in the top-70 band.
In the world, there are 206 ranked national teams with Somalia rock-bottom and Brazil leading the pack.
Ranked 66th in the world and 13th in Africa, South Africa are southern Africa’s leading team followed by Madagascar (90th in the world and 24th in Africa) then Zambia (94th in the world and 27th in Africa), Zimbabwe (101 in the world and 28th on the continent) and Mozambique (104th in the world and 29th in Africa).
Egypt (25th in the world) top the continental standings followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo (28), Senegal (31), Tunisia (34), Africa kings Cameroon (35), Nigeria (38), Burkina Faso (47) Algeria (48), Ghana (50) and Cote d’Ivoire (54), respectively.
Brazil lead the world standings followed by World Cup champions, Germany, Argentina, surprise package Switzerland, Poland, European kings Portugal, Chile, Colombia, Belgium and Spain, respectively.