European champions Spain have ended the year as the world’s No.1-ranked nation in the latest FIFA list published yesterday.
Spain won all 16 of its matches this year — including the penalty shootout victory over Italy in a European Championship quarterfinal — after starting the year ranked No. 4. The nation has been top for six straight months since winning Euro 2008 in June.
Germany, the beaten finalist are still at No. 2, while the Netherlands rose one to No. 3, trading places with world champions Italy. South American rivals Brazil and Argentina followed in fifth and sixth.
England continued their revival under coach Fabio Capello, moving up two places to No. 8. Euro 2008 semi-finalists Turkey climbed three to No. 10.
The Czech Republic and Portugal fell out of the top 10, joining France in a three-way tie for No. 11.
Cameroon are the top African nation at No. 14. Egypt climbed three to No. 16 and Nigeria also rose three to No. 19.
The US lead the CONCACAF nations, up two places to No. 22. Mexico dropped one to 26th.
Australia continued to head the Asian confederation nations, up nine at No. 28. Japan was up three at No. 35. Taiwan ended the year at No. 167. Oceania’s leading nation New Zealand dropped 26 places to No. 86.
Big movers in the top 100 this month included Bolivia (up 13 to No. 58), Jamaica (up 18 to No. 65) and Kenya (up 17 to No. 68).
This year, major jumps were made by Russia (up 14 places to end the year No. 9) and Burkina Faso (up 51 to No. 62). Montenegro jumped 60 places to No. 112 in the rankings.
San Marino, Anguilla, Guam, Montserrat, the Cook Islands, American Samoa and Papua New Guinea were tied for last place in the table at joint 201st.
A total of 1,040 international matches played this year counted toward the rankings.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STAFF WRITER