All Whites ranked below Maldives

By Michael Brown

Kosta Barbarouses of the All Whites. Photo / Greg Bowker
Kosta Barbarouses of the All Whites. Photo / Greg Bowker

When Ricki Herbert took over as Maldives football coach in 2015, it's doubtful he ever thought the tiny country in the Indian Ocean would be ranked ahead of New Zealand.

But it's happened. As hard as it is to believe, the Maldives are ranked 160 in the latest Fifa rankings and the All Whites are a miserable 161.

The Fifa rankings are flawed (and the All Whites should normally occupy a spot between about 80 and 100) but New Zealand's position is an inescapable truth and their lowest since the rankings were introduced in 1992. They were 49th in 2002 and 63rd in 2010 but have been on a downward spiral since.

They have slipped 12 places in the latest rankings, which is a reflection of the fact they have played barely any meaningful football games in this World Cup cycle. That should improve after next month's Oceania Nations Cup in Papua New Guinea, when the winner qualifies for next year's Confederations Cup. The Nations Cup is also the first round of World Cup qualification for the Oceania confederation.

The All Whites played only three games last year - a 1-0 defeat to Korea, a 1-1 draw with Myanmar and a 1-0 victory over Oman - and was part of the reason why coach Anthony Hudson labelled New Zealand's football culture as "soft" and hit out at the lack of international competition.

It would pain him to see countries like Curacao (152), Comoros (159) and Sao Tome e Principe (150) ranked ahead of New Zealand.

They are still the top-ranked side in Oceania, which should always be the case, but aren't far ahead of American Samoa, the Cook Islands and Samoa who are all equal in 170th. Tonga (204) are the lowest-ranked side in the confederation, but also occupy the joint lowest ranking in world football among the 209 member nations.

Argentina have taken over as the world's no 1 side ahead of Belgium, Chile, Colombia and Germany. pain, Brazil, Portugal, Uruguay and England round out the top 10. Australia, who left Oceania to join Asia in 2006, are 50th.

Herbert, who led the All Whites to three draws at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, has guided the Maldives to three wins in their five games, including victories over Bhutan and Cambodia.

The New Zealand women's football side are ranked 16th and this morning were beaten 2-0 by the Netherlands near Amsterdam.

- NZ Herald

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