ZURICH, Switzerland: European champion Spain has ended the year as the world s No.1-ranked nation in the latest FIFA list published Wednesday.
Spain won all 16 of its matches in 2008 – including the penalty shootout victory over Italy in a European Championship quarterfinal – after starting the year ranked No.4. It has been top for six straight months since winning Euro 2008 in June.
Germany, the beaten finalist is still at No.2, while the Netherlands rose one to No.3, trading places with world champion Italy. South American rivals Brazil and Argentina followed in fifth and sixth.
England continued its revival under coach Fabio Capello, moving up two places to No.8. Euro 2008 semifinalist 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 is the top African nation at No.14. Egypt climbed three to No.16 and Nigeria also rose three to No.19.
This ranking is an all-time high for Egypt; its best ranking before that was in June 2006 when it reached the 17th place.
A 5-1 friendly victory over Benin last month proved vital for the progress of the African champions in the table.
The United States leads the CONCACAF nation, 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. 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).
In 2008, major jumps were made by Euro 2008 semifinalist Russia (up 14 places to end the year No.9) and Burkina Faso (up 51 to No.62).
Montenegro, which got its football independence from Serbia after the 2006 World Cup, jumped 60 places to No.112 in the rankings.
A total of 1,040 international matches played in 2008 counted toward the rankings. -AP and FilGoal.com