Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter will hope that his team can move up the Fifa rankings and qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations in 2019. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

PARIS – Belgium will end the year as No 1 ahead of world champions France in the global rankings released by Fifa on Thursday.

Belgium, beaten by France in the World Cup semi-finals, edge out Didier Deschamps’ team by one ranking point.

Belgium have 1 727 points, by Fifa’s calculations to 1 726 for France. Brazil are third on 1 676.

Fifa noted on their web site that France, who were ranked No 9 last Christmas, were the year’s “Best Mover” after a “stellar 2018... having gained more points (165) since December 2017 than any other nation”.

The governing body of world football also noted that Europe and Asia have gained top-50 places at the expense of Africa. 

Europe has 31, an increase of two, Asia is up one to three and Africa is down three to five top-50 representatives.

Kosovo were the biggest climbers, jumping 46 places to 131.

Stuart Baxter’s Bafana Bafana came in at No 72, level with Cape Verde Islands on 1 325, while Senegal are the leading African nation at No 23, with 1 505.

Fifa Rankings

1 Belgium 2 France 3 Brazil 4 Croatia 5 England 6 Portugal 7 Uruguay 8 Switzerland 9 Spain 10 Denmark.

Africa: 23 Senegal 26 Tunisia 40 Morocco 72 South Africa, Cape Verde Islands.

AFP, Staff Writer