NI v Czech Republic

Over the past five years the results of Michael O’Neill’s team have seen them shoot up the European and world football rankings. THE RISE AND RISE OF NORTHERN IRELAND

The crucial 1-0 FIFA World Cup qualifying success away to Azerbaijan back in June was significant for Northern Ireland for a multitude of reasons. Stuart Dallas’s stoppage-time winner in Baku kept hopes of a top two finish in Group C alive ahead of this autumn’s fixtures and also helped the team achieve their highest-ever placing in FIFA’s World Rankings – 22nd back in July. The rankings list, which is produced every month, saw the boys in green and white move up six places from 28th in June on the back of that Azerbaijan result. It marked the pinnacle of a meteoric rise for the country over the last five years. Back in September 2012 Northern Ireland slumped to their lowest

ranking of 129 on the back of a 2-0 defeat to Russia and a 1-1 draw with European minnows Luxembourg. The FIFA World Rankings were originally introduced back in December 1992. The way in which the system is calculated has changed a number of times since then, most significantly in July 2006 when it was announced the rankings would be based on results from four years of competition rather than eight years. The position of each nation in the rankings is based on points awarded from playing in FIFA-recognised matches. From its launch until December 1998 it was a straightforward method of teams being allocated


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