Nigeria Climb FIFA Ranks Despite 2-1 Defeat

Nigeria Climb FIFA Ranks Despite 2-1 Defeat

The Super Eagles of Nigeria have soared up the FIFA rankings, climbing fourteen spots from 42nd to 28th globally in the latest update. 

Nigeria’s massive leap in the table was due to the Super Eagles’ silver-winning campaign at the recent African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Côte d’Ivoire. 

Despite losing the final 2-1 to Ivory Coast, the three-time African champions are now ranked third in the continent, a jump of three spots from their previous sixth-place standing. This is the team’s highest global ranking since May 2013.

The loss was a tough pill to swallow for many who had touted the Super Eagles as the winners. 

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Before kickoff, many fans, pundits, and even US sports betting platforms favored Nigeria, and rightfully so. Led by the African Footballer of the Year, Victor Osimhen, Nigeria went through the group stage unbeaten, scoring in every match and conceding only one goal from open play leading up to the final on Sunday. Final odds from Oddschecker had Nigeria as the marginal favorite at 37/20; however, the win wasn’t on the cards. 

Nigeria had the players, the preparation, and the plan, but things fell apart at the final hurdle. 

A first-half goal from William Troost-Ekong put Nigeria ahead, but their cagey lead didn’t last long. Ivory Coast dominated possession for most of the first half at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium, but they failed to capitalize as the Eagles sat deep. An equalizer from Franck Kessié drew Ivory Coast level in the 62nd minute, and a late winner from Sébastien Haller sealed the title for the host nation. 

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The emphatic win marks one of the greatest turnarounds in major tournament history. 

The win was enough to move the Elephants up 10 places to 39th in the world, while Nigeria will be left to face the disappointment of a fifth defeat in an AFCON final. With the cup taking place biannually, the Eagles will already have their sights set on going the distance in Morocco in 2025.

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Angola were the biggest winners from the cup finals, jumping 24 places to 93rd following their run to the quarter-finals. 

2022 World Cup winners Argentina take the coveted first spot, followed by France and England respectively. Morocco remains Africa’s top-ranked team, moving up one place to 12th despite losing in the last 16.

Belgium, Brazil, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Croatia complete the global top 10.

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