Ireland is the 36th best football team in the world according to the latest FIFA rankings released today. The country gained 5 spots since May and enjoys its best standing since 2009. This places Ireland higher than many teams that participated in the 2010 World Cup including Cameroon (40), South Korea (44) and Honduras (46). In recent friendlies the republic bested both high-ranking Paraguay (16) 2-1 and Algeria (33) 3-0.
The squad did not play in South Africa this year thanks to the controversial handball of French player Thierry Henry in France’s 1-1 aggregate victory over the Irish in the World Cup preliminaries last May. Perhaps because of karma the French fell 21 places in the latest world rankings from 9 to 21.
Other notable new FIFA rankings include World Cup winner Spain at number and runner-up Netherlands as the newly minted number 2. Third place Germany rose to fourth and disappointing cup favorite Brazil fell to third. In spite of a lackluster showing England is ranked 7th. Northern Ireland dropped three places to 59.
Ireland’s highest FIFA ranking was 6th in 1992.