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FIFA ranking for national side

Friday 1 April 2022 | Written by Rashneel Kumar | Published in Soccer, Sports

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FIFA ranking for national side
Members of the national side in Doha, Qatar earlier this week. Some Rarotonga players returned home yesterday. CIFA/22033120

Despite withdrawing from the Oceania World Cup Qualifiers due to Covid-19 cases, the national football side has achieved a major feat – earning an international ranking.

Cook Islands was the only unranked side competing in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Oceania Qualifiers earlier this month in Doha.

The national side played tournament runner up Solomon Islands in its opening match and went down fighting 0-2.

In lead up to the second match against Tahiti, Cook Islands reported cases of Covid-19 in the team and subsequently forfeited the match.

The side alongside Vanuatu later pulled out of the tournament. Oceania Football Confederation then decided all matches played or scheduled to be played as part of Group A involving the Cook Islands or Vanuatu shall be deemed to have not taken place for the purposes of determining the group standings.

However, the match between the Cook Islands and the Solomon Islands “will count with respect to the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, although it will not count with respect to the preliminary competition Group A standings”, OFC earlier said.

In the latest international rankings released yesterday, Cook Islands placed 190 from the 211 football associations affiliated with the governing body, FIFA. The national side is placed above Samoa (193) and Tonga (199) in Oceania region. New Zealand after their Oceania World Cup Qualifiers win this week is the top ranked side in the region on 101st place followed by Solomon Islands (137) and New Caledonia (160).

Cook Islands Football Association (CIFA) competition manager, Pauline Dean said gaining an international ranking was one of their major goals.

“Our national men’s side hasn’t played in a while and we were looking at playing some games at the OFC preliminary competition which was supposed to be held in 2020 in Rarotonga but got cancelled due to Covid,” Dean said.

“At the Qatar qualifiers, we would have loved to play more matches but Covid is something that is beyond our control and unfortunately due to cases in the team we had to pull out.

“I think we played well against the Solomon Islands, they are a top side and the result showed we have improved a lot given the time we had to put together the team. I’m sure we would have done well against Tahiti and Vanuatu.”

Dean said the plan would be to get more international matches in order to maintain our international rankings.

“We do have Pacific Games coming up otherwise there isn’t any regional competition for the men’s side. The onus will be on the team to look for opportunities to play some friendlies in New Zealand like we did with our under-16s last year.”

Meanwhile Brazil is back on top pipping former number one Belgium. France is placed third followed by Argentina, England, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Mexico and Netherlands.