KABUL rankings, the highest position since the rankings were launched in 1993.
FIFA, the governing body of world soccer, updated its rankings on Thursday, and Iran switched places with Japan as the top-ranked team in Asia.
Iran rose four places to 45th in the FIFA world rankings, while Japan fell four to 48th. South Korea and Australia, the two other teams from the continent to qualify for the World Cup in Brazil next year, were ranked 54th and 59th, respectively.
Cameroon is the only other team outside the top 50 to qualify for the World Cup. The African nation is 51st in the latest rankings.
Uzbekistan was Asia’s biggest mover, falling 13 places to 68th. Afghanistan, the Philippines and Guam reached their highest position since the rankings were launched in 1993. Afghanistan and the Philippines both rose four places, to 129th and 133rd, respectively, while Guam gained two spots to 169th.
China was among the Asian gainers, moving four places to 93 on the global chart. China is unbeaten since a 1-5 defeat to Thailand in June that led to manager José Antonio Camacho being fired.
Spain remained at the very top of the global rankings, followed by Germany, Argentina, Colombia and Portugal, which scraped its way through qualification for the World Cup finals. Portugal moved up nine places from the previous rankings.
Brazil also returned to the top 10, just. The 2014 World Cup host is tenth in the latest rakings, up one place. The other teams in the top 10 are Uruguay, Italy, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Belgium, a nation brimming with a new generation of soccer talent, fell out of the top 10 to 11th place, ahead of Greece at 12 and England, which fell three places to 13.
Turks and Caicos Islands, Bhutan and San Marino share 207th place, the lowest spot on the rankings.
The latest development places Afghanistan in the best ever position in Asia, according to a statement from Afghanistan Football Federation. The federation said the national soccer team had previously been ranked 132nd in FIFA world rankings
After jumping four places in world rankings, Afghanistan obtained first position in South Asia.
With Turkmenistan falling 12 places, Afghanistan would be a leading team among the eight nations to be participating in next year’s AFC Challenge Cup in the Maldives. The Challenge Cup began in 2006 and is held every two years.
The 2014 winners of the AFC Challenge Cup will participate in the AFC Asian Cup 2015 to be held in Australia.
“Fortunately, Afghanistan has been able make it to the final tournament and would be considered serious title contenders for the AFC Challenge Cup among the eight participating nations,” said Murtaza Danish, the Afghanistan Football Federation spokesman.
On September 11, 2013, the Afghans became SAFF 2013 champions after defeating India 2–0. The victory led to celebrations across Afghanistan.