Football

Vanuatu is the most improved football team in world football in December 2017, according to FIFA.

The world governing body says Vanuatu’s Pacific Mini Games gold medal means it has climbed 28 places in the world rankings – more than any other country.

Vanuatu is now the 157th best football team in the world and has moved ahead of Papua New Guinea in 160th and Fiji in 168th.

FIFA announced the news today and said: “2017 was a memorable year for football in Vanuatu. The Pacific archipelago competed at its first FIFA tournament, bowing out at the group stage of the FIFA U-20 World Cup Korea Republic 2017, before ending the year on a high by taking gold in both the men’s and women’s editions of the Pacific Mini Games.”

Vanuatu’s under 20’s World Cup performance and the emergence of Bong Kalo, Ronaldo Wilkins and Azariah Soromon means the future of the nation is looking bright despite having a population of just 250,000.

New Zealand is still the top-ranked Oceania side in 121st in the rankings, having moved up a single place.

Solomon Islands are 151st, followed by Tahiti in 152nd and New Caledonia in 154th.

That means Vanuatu will now have to move just six more places to officially be the second best team in Oceania.

American Samoa, Cook Islands and Samoa are joint-194th in the rankings while Tonga remain bottom in 206th place after failing to win a game at the mini games.

Germany are once again the best team in the world in first place in the rankings, followed by Brazil, Portugal, Argentina and Belgium.

The rankings are decided using a complex formula based on friendly and international results, as well as the quality of opposition and the tournament the match is taking place.

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