World football minnows Wales are rated at the team’s highest ever by governing body FIFA – a place above England.
Wales take ninth place in the world rankings – with Argentina sealing top place.
If Wales beat lowly Cyprus in the upcoming Euro 2016 qualifier, they need just three points to reach the finals in France.
Manager Chris Coleman explained the ranking boosted his team’s confidence but meant nothing if they failed to reach the competition finals.
Meanwhile England boss Roy Hodgson has stated his team can win the competition, despite dropping from eighth to 10th in the rankings.
The world’s top rated teams
“People in the game have laughed at Wales coming in low for many years and this shows how we have improved, but in the end it’s all about how we perform on the pitch,” said Coleman.
“It’s nice to see our efforts appreciated but we still have work to do to get to the finals and that’s our key objective.”
The latest FIFA world rankings are:
- The Netherlands
Reigning European champions Spain come in at 11th.
Hodgson and his players are readying to take on San Marino in the qualifiers – and so far have a 100% record in the competition.
“With the players we have and the performances we are putting in, there’s no reason why we can’t win in France,” said Hodgson.
England fans will be forgiven for saying they’ve hear it all before.
Highly paid players and their managers have talked up the team as competition winners at the World Cup and European Championships for many years, but the fact remains the only international trophy England has ever won is the World Cup in 1966.
Doubters say that was due to home land advantage.
Manipulating the formula
Since then Germany, Argentina and Brazil have gone on to win many more trophies on the world stage.
Pundits say Wales and Romania have manipulated the rankings by spotting how FIFA’s secret formula penalises teams for losing friendlies and championship qualifiers.
They argue both teams have not played more than one friendly in the past two years and that Romania hired a consultant to help them better their position.
Neither country has figured in a world or European final for decades.