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Six Pacific female soccer teams out of FIFA world ranking, Germany still the leader

The Tonga women;s Under-17 soccer team that played New Zealand in Rarotonga (photo: Nuku'alofa Times)

ZURICH, Switzerland-March 27: 3:10pm(Pacnews): Six Pacific female soccer teams are out of the world soccer ranking because of prolonged inactivity.

The world soccer body, FIFA released the latest ranking last Friday identifying Cook Islands, Fiji, New Caledonia, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Tonga as countries not ranked in the current listing.

The other 11 teams are from other small island developing states in the Caribbean.

The FIFA/Coca-Cola Women’s World Ranking has a new team at the top for the first time since March 2015, with Germany back at the summit. The European champions have dethroned ranking stalwarts the USA – who now sit in second – in a table that has been shaped by an eventful three months of friendly matches and invitational tournaments.

Shock results at the recent SheBelieves Cup have done the most to end the Stars & Stripes’ reign, with the hosts losing twice to finish bottom of the standings – leading to their lowest number of points (2105) since the ranking’s inception. That has allowed Germany to leapfrog them into top spot, although the new leaders also lost ranking points at the same tournament, having been the only side to lose to the USA before eventually finishing second.

SheBelieves Cup champions France have consequently been able to close in on the leading duo and now sit just 36 points behind Germany – the smallest gap between the ranking’s leaders and third-placed team since December 2004.

The latest ranking also reflects an impressive period for Spain, who recently won the Algarve Cup and have climbed to their highest-ever ranking position (13th) on the back of a record number of points (1885). Switzerland, too, currently have an unprecedented number of points (1866) after winning the Cyprus Cup, while there are also notable upward moves from the likes of England (4th, up one place), Sweden (6th, up two), Iceland (18th, up two) and Northern Ireland (55th, up four).

Italy, by contrast, have dropped to 19th – their lowest-ever ranking – after losing all three of their matches at the Cyprus Cup.

Further down the table, three countries – Afghanistan, Azerbaijan and Bhutan – have returned to the ranking, while 15 have dropped out due to prolonged inactivity. This has contributed to significant movement throughout the table, with no fewer than 20 countries improving on their previous best positions.

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