Kenya moves four places up in latest FIFA rankings

Friday, April 5th, 2024 00:30 | By
Harambee Stars players pour water to head coach Engin Firat (centre) as they celebrate winning the Four Nations tournament in Malawi two weeks ago.
Harambee Stars players pour water to head coach Engin Firat (centre) as they celebrate winning the Four Nations tournament in Malawi two weeks ago. PHOTO/FKF

Kenya’s Harambee Stars leaped four places up in the latest world FIFA Ranking following their success at the Four-Nations tournament trophy staged in Lilongwe, Malawi, during the FIFA series friendly tour on March 29.

The showpiece in Malawi saw the team’s head coach write history with the national team for winning five matches in a row with Stars away from Kenyan soil.

Stars moved from position 111 to 107 and it can be attributed to the team’s superb showing in Malawi where they defeated the hosts Flames 4-0 in their opener before crushing Zimbabwe Warriors 3-1 in the final to win the tournament’s trophy.

This was Kenya’s first major trophy under coach Engin Firat, who took charge in 2021 following the exit of Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee, and it was their first since 2017 when they lifted the Council of East and Central Africa (CECAFA) Senior Challenge Cup after defeating Zanzibar in the final on penalties in Machakos.

Against Malawi, Kenya dominated the Flames despite playing at their backyard – Bingu Stadium – and it was captain Michael Olunga, who notched a brace before Ayub Timbe and John Avire sealed the win. Against Zimbabwe, it was birthday boy Olunga, who once again carried the day, notching a hat-trick to hand Kenya the trophy.

On return from Malawi, Football Kenya Federation (FKF) President Nick Mwendwa said winning the trophy was a clear indicator of good things to come in the future.

“We have toiled to build this team, we have worked hard and struggled at the same time, and seeing this team beating Malawi and Zimbabwe is a good thing and something Kenyans should be proud of, and it shows you we are on the right track and more good things are in the offing,” Mwendwa told People Sports.

On his part, coach Firat said: “We have a good team, and all they need is the support of everyone, this team is not getting the support they deserve, and I urge everyone to come and rally behind the team, they are the future of this great nation.”

The outcome in Malawi was a morale booster for Kenya as they prepare for their upcoming Group F World Cup qualifying matches against Burundi and Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) champions Ivory Coast in June. Kenya kicked off their campaign with a 2-1 defeat against Gabon before recovering to hammer Seychelles 5-0.

According to the rankings, Kenya neighbours Uganda are the highest ranked East African nation at position 92 with Kenya ahead of Tanzania, who are ranked 119, despite featuring at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations. Morocco (13), Senegal (17), Nigeria (30), Egypt (37), Ivory Coast (38), Tunisia (41), Algeria (43), Mali, (44), Cameroon (51), and South Africa (59) are the top 10 teams African countries.

In the world, Argentina remained top followed by France, Belgium, England, Brazil, Portugal, Netherlands, Spain, Italy, and Croatia.

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