Two new nations have joined FIFA in recent weeks, both from Europe, meaning a bit of a shift in the world rankings, shuffling many of the lowliest teams down a place. The arrival of Kosovo, leaping straight in to a ranking of 190th and surely set to rise a bit higher with a reasonably handy squad of players, means that all teams below them – including our own motley crew – are now listed one place lower (=205th).
That may change again come September when Gibraltar take their place on the rankings. Having been admitted to UEFA a couple of year’s ago, Gibraltar enjoyed some positive results in friendly internationals before losing all of their Euro 2016 qualifiers. Not having yet played a match as a FIFA nation, they are yet to receive a ranking.
That will of course change when Gibraltar begin their World Cup qualifying campaign for Russia 2018. Most recently Gibraltar lost 5-0 to Latvia in March, but a week earlier they had drawn 0-0 with Liechtenstein. If they repeat such a result now that they are a FIFA member then they’ll rise up the rankings, but with the World Cup qualifiers getting into full swing in September there is the very real possibility that Gibraltar will join the Worst in the World club in spite of their previous efforts and occasional successes over the last couple of years.
That would make them something of an anomaly as a Worst in the World: a team ranked last who has had some very decent results in recent matches.
But with a friendly match scheduled against the newly crowned European champions, Portugal, at the start of September before facing a World Cup qualifier against Greece they could well see themselves listed last come the October rankings.
They must also face Estonia, Belgium and Cyprus in 2016, with Bosnia-Herzegovina to come next year. In their favour is their apparent willingness to schedule friendly matches, often against teams of a similar or marginally higher stature – something that another European minnow San Marino didn’t do during their spell at the bottom of the world rankings.
Looming a little further on the horizon is the prospect of the UEFA Nations League in two year’s time which would also give them, and indeed San Marino, Andorra and the rest, regular winnable matches. But for now, there is the real prospect of Gibraltar joining the gang in the near future.