Thursday, April 20, 2006

April fools

It seems I don't have much to post about these days other than the release each month of FIFA's rankings. The top of the April edition is stable, with Brazil, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands continuing to occupy the top spots; the "stans" are the most upwardly mobile countries this month with Tajikistan jumping 16 spots to number 125 and (can-I-buy-a-vowel) Kyrgyzstan moving up 13 to occupy the 146th spot.

The top 20 looks like this:

1 Brazil 0 830 -5
2 Czech Republic 0 779 -10
3 Netherlands 0 774 -14
4 USA 1 760 -4
5 Spain 1 759 -4
6 Mexico 1 758 -4
7 France 1 754 -6
8 Portugal 2 753 -2
8 Argentina -4 753 -12
10 England -1 744 -12
11 Denmark 3 738 2
12 Nigeria 0 737 -1
13 Turkey -2 733 -10
14 Italy -2 731 -7
15 Cameroon 0 723 -3
16 Sweden 0 717 -8
17 Japan 1 709 -3
18 Egypt -1 708 -6
19 Greece 2 699 -5
19 Germany 3 699 -1

Germany, understandably, gained 3 spots for a 4-1 thrashing of the U.S., and Denmark also jumped 3 spots among these teams. The Americans, inexplicably, were rewarded for their tails-between-their-legs performance in Dortmund, with a move into 4th place.

Here are the results the U.S. have accumulated since the World Cup in 2002 (rank of opponent is current rank):

Brazil (1): 2 losses
Netherlands (3): 1 loss
Mexico (6): 2 wins, 1 loss, 1 draw
Argentina (8): 1 loss
England (10): 1 loss
Denmark (11): 1 loss
Turkey (13): 1 loss
Cameroon (15): 1 loss
Japan (17): 1 loss
Germany (19): 1 loss
Costa Rica (26): 2 wins, 1 loss, 1 draw
Colombia (27): 1 win
Poland (28): 2 wins, 1 draw
Paraguay (33): 1 win
Norway (40): 1 win
Honduras (41): 3 wins
Jamaica (44): 2 wins, 3 draws
Trinidad (47): 2 wins
Guatemala (61): 2 wins, 1 draw
Scotland (62): 1 draw
Wales (74): 1 win
Cuba (79): 2 wins
Panama (81): 3 wins, 2 draws
Canada (84): 2 wins, 1 draw
Haiti (104): 1 draw
New Zealand (120): 1 win
El Salvador (128): 4 wins
Grenada (154): 2 wins

The Americans, as should be expected from the region's top team, have done well against CONCACAF opponents (26 wins, 2 losses, 10 draws), but apart from good results against another paper tiger, Mexico, haven't performed well against FIFA's top 20.

The Americans' continuing climb in the face of some mediocre results could be due to the following stipulation in FIFA's ranking procedures, which I had previously not noticed: "For each team only the seven best results per year are given full weighting." I can't begin to understand why this is the case. Knocking off of the worst (and best, perhaps) result in a given year might be a useful way to disregard statistical outliers, but to disregard several poor results (only for countries who play enough matches, mind you), is downright foolhardy. I would be interested to know whether the other results are ignored, or simply not given "full weighting". Assigning a weight to matches 8+ that is somewhere between 0 and "full" would make the function of the rankings even more inscrutable.

2 comments:

Orikinla Osinachi. said...

I am a Nigerian and I am happy Nigeria made it to the 12th position!

God bless.

Anonymous said...

U.S.A is 5th in the latest rankings, but that is still rather high.