Qatar have climbed a huge 38 places in the latest FIFA world rankings released on Thursday, reaching their highest position in more than quarter of a century on the back of their victorious Asian Cup campaign.
The Al Annabi, who will host the World Cup in 2022, are now ranked 55th — just ahead of Cameroon and Egypt — after beating Japan 3-1 in last week's final in the United Arab Emirates. It is their highest ranking since 1993, while their best ever position still stands at 53.
Qatar's improvement was expected as six of the seven teams they defeated en route to winning the Asian Cup title were recorded against sides who were ranked higher than the Maroons going into tournament.
Qatar defeated Lebanon (81st rank) and Saudi Arabia (69) in the group stage before registering triumphs over Iraq (88), Korea Republic (53), United Arab Emirates (79) and Japan (50) in the knockout rounds. The only lower ranked team Felix Sanchez's side came up against were North Korea (109) in the group stage.
Iran remain as the Asia's highest ranked team. Japan, whose bid for a fifth Asian Cup title was thwarted by Qatar, also saw a surge in their ranking as they improved by 23 spots to 27 to sit behind Iran, who improved by seven to move up to 22.
Iran's record of four wins and a draw in UAE 2019 helped them stay on top, despite Team Melli losing 3-0 to Japan in the semi-finals. Japan registered six wins in UAE and the points earned saw them move up as the continent's second highest ranked team.
South Korea, shown the exit by Qatar in the quarter-finals, improved to 38 from 53 while Australia, whose defence of the Asian Cup title ended in the quarters, dropped by one to 42. The United Arab Emirates' run to the semi-finals of the AFC Asian Cup improved their ranking by 12 to 67 while Saudi Arabia dropped by one to 70. China PR (72), Iraq (80) and Syria (83) complete the Asian top 10.
Meanwhile, Belgium continue to lead the world rankings ahead of last year's World Cup winners France and Brazil, with no changes to the top 20 due to the lack of fixtures involving teams from the European and South American confederations.
1. Belgium, 2. France, 3. Brazil, 4. Croatia, 5. England, 6. Portugal, 7. Uruguay, 8. Switzerland, 9. Spain, 10. Denmark
Selected others: 22. Iran (+7), 27. Japan (+23), 38. South Korea (+15), 55. Qatar (+38)
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