ZURICH, Switzerland (Reuters) – World champions Germany pushed Brazil back into second place to return to the top of the FIFA rankings, published yesterday.Germany’s 2-1 win away to the Czech Republic and their 6-0 drubbing of Norway in the World Cup qualifiers lifted them over the already-qualified Brazil, who dropped points in a draw away to Colombia.European champions Portugal climbed three places to third – even though they are second in their World Cup qualifying group behind Switzerland.In another surprise, Argentina are fourth in the rankings despite struggling to qualify for the World Cup after drawing their last two games – away to Uruguay and at home to Venezuela.War-torn Syria, who have reached the Asian playoff stage in the World Cup qualifiers despite playing their ‘home’ World Cup qualifiers in Malaysia because of the security situation in the country, rose to their highest-ever ranking of 75.Three other teams reached their best-ever place – Peru (12th), Northern Ireland (20th) and Luxemburg (101st) after they held France to a 0-0 draw away.The rankings made disappointing reading for Asia with only three sides in the top 50 – Iran, Japan and Australia.The next FIFA rankings will be announced on October 16 and used to determine the seedings in the draw for the four European playoff ties for next year’s World Cup finals in Russia.Top 10 rankings: (previous positions in brackets) 1. Germany (2) 2. Brazil (1) 3. Portugal (6) 4. Argentina (3) 5. Belgium (9) 6. Poland (5) 7. Switzerland (4) 8. France (10) 9. Chile (7) 10. Colombia (8).
Essien ran onto Frank Lampard’s pass and he thundered home an effort that lifted the roof off Stamford Bridge as the home fans celebrated the effort.The goal got Chelsea a point that day as they chased Manchester United for the title.Eventually, the pursuit did not succeed as Manchester United went on to win their first Premier League since 2003.For Essien, he won something on a personal note as the goal fetched him the Chelsea Goal of the Year for the 2006/2007 season.How was it received on the day?Sky Sports’ commentator for the match, Martin Tyler, described the goal as “unstoppable” while his match summariser, Andy Gray, said: “Oh my goodness!!! What an unbelievable strike!!!.My best Chelsea goalIn 2019 interview with Chelsea TV, the former Black Stars midfielder said the goal was the best he ever scored for Chelsea and it was more instinctive than planned.“Obviously, people always ask me about my best goal at Chelsea and I say the one against Arsenal although the Barcelona goal was also great. Arsenal are our greatest rivals so scoring a goal like that against them you have to put it on top.”“It was a difficult game for us. We were losing 1-0 and Ashley Cole retrieved the ball from the back and found Lampard. I just asked for the ball from him and without thinking twice, I hit the shot. At first, it seemed like it was going off target but it entered the net.” Michael Essien may have scored 17 goals for Chelsea in his time at the club but perhaps one will always stand out for many Chelsea fans and the club as a whole.It was his wonderful long range effort that snaked its way into the net at Stamford Bridge against Arsenal in a Premier League match played on December 10, 2006.The goal levelled the match at 1-1 and it preserved Chelsea’s unbeaten home run in the season.14 years on, the goal still resonates with the Chelsea faithful and on March 26, 2020, the strike was featured on Chelsea’s official Twitter handle as its entry for Throwback Thursday.
African countries have struggled to make a significant impact at the World Cup since the first nation (Egypt) made an appearance in 1934.13 different African nations have appeared at the World Cup, with no team making it past the quarter-finals stage.Ghana’s Black Stars were a penalty away from the semis in 2010, becoming the only African side, along with Cameroon in 1990 and Senegal in 2002 to play in the World Cup quarters.. Cameroon legend, Samuel Eto’o believes that it’s not a lack of talent which is keeping African countries from World Cup glory.Eto’o reckons that countries on the continent suffer from low self-esteem when they go to the showpiece resulting in them falling flat.The former Barcelona striker, who is an ambassador of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar thinks that an African country can finally win the World Cup when they stop seeing themselves as inferior to the European and South American nations.“Mentalities must change. We are not inferior to anyone,” he said during a video conference.Eto’o even went as far as suggesting that Tunisia could win the next World Cup.Tunisia? They have all the means necessary to qualify, and not play just to participate. It’s an excellent team that can win the World Cup,” he said.“What we lack in Africa is self-esteem.”More from Citi Sports