Football: Singapore climbs nine spots to 162nd in FIFA rankings

Football: Singapore climbs nine spots to 162nd in FIFA rankings
Singapore's Hariss Harun (R) competes for the ball against Turkmenistan's Annayev Myrat (L) during their AFC Asian Cup 2019 Qualifiers Group E football match in Singapore on September 5, 2017. Photo: AFP
Published: 8:53 PM, September 14, 2017

SINGAPORE — The Singapore national football team is now ranked 162nd in the world, up by nine spots, according to the latest Fifa rankings released on Thursday (Sept 14).

The Lions earned 171.28 points in the last month, after two credible 1-1 draws against Turkmenistan and Hong Kong.

The Turkmenistan game, which was a 2019 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup qualifier, gave the Lions the most points — 125.38. Singapore are now ranked directly below Mauritius and ahead of Puerto Rico.

The Philippines remain the highest-ranked country in South-east Asia (123rd). Vietnam was second (130th), with Thailand third (137th). Singapore was the fifth highest country in the region, behind Myanmar (152nd), and ahead of Laos (166th). Malaysia was ranked 166th in the world, with Indonesia placed 169th.

The latest FIFA rankings is Singapore’s fourth highest spot this year. 

In June, Singapore was ranked 157th before dropping to 169th in July and 171st the following month.

The Lions’ two opponents in the last month had both been ranked higher than Singapore. Turkmenistan is now 136th, moving up five spots, while Hong Kong came in at 147th (down by one).

In both the Hong Kong and Turkmenistan games, which were held at the Jalan Besar stadium, V. Sundramoorthy’s men had the better chances and could have won.

However the Lions’ profligacy in front of goal proved costly. 

The draw with Turkmenistan means that the Lions’ hopes of reaching the Asian Cup for only the second time are dangling by a thread, as they are rooted at the bottom of their group. 

Singapore have two points with three games remaining behind Bahrain (7 points), Turkmenistan (4 points) and Taiwan (3 points). Only the top two in the group will qualify.

Eighteen matches have now elapsed since Singapore have scored more than once in a game, the last time being a 2-1 friendly win over Myanmar last March. Since Sundram took over in May last year, they have scored nine times, kept five clean sheets and conceded 27 times in 17 matches. Singapore’s record in the last 17 matches is two wins, five draws and nine losses.

Singapore now need to rack up the points away to Turkmenistan next month, against Bahrain at home in November and Taiwan away next March, but Sundram is optimistic of making it to the United Arab Emirates in 2019.

“The table is still open, I hope Bahrain win (against Taiwan in the game later) and pull away and let the three of us battle (it out for second place),” he said after the Turkmenistan game.

“We have the belief. More or less, the boys could have beaten this opponent (and) we will take the game to Turkmenistan (next).”

The top 10 ranked teams in the world are Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium, Poland, Switzerland, France, Chile and Colombia.