Karl Decena, InterAksyon.com
After its runner-up finish in the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup, the Philippine national men’s football team moved up in the latest FIFA World Rankings released on Thursday.
The Azkals moved to 129th this month from 140th last May to jump 11 spots in the rankings. They became second in Southeast Asia behind Vietnam (123rd) and ahead of Thailand (149th), Malaysia (153rd), Singapore (155th) and Indonesia (157th).
The Azkals made it to the Challenge Cup final for the first time, not losing a single match until the final, where they yielded to Palestine in the title-decider to fall short of punching a ticket to the prestigious Asian Cup in 2015.
Challenge Cup champion Palestine made the biggest leap in the rankings after jumping 71 places from 165th to 94th.
Challenge Cup participants Turkmenistan (143rd), Maldives (147th), which the Azkals both defeated, and Myanmar (159th) also gained points to move up in the ladder.
Iran remained the best-ranked team in Asia followed by Japan, South Korea, Uzbekistan and Australia.
Defending champion Spain continued its reign on top of the table before the World Cup, followed by Germany, host Brazil, Portugal and Argentina.
FIFA calculates every country’s ranking based on match results (a win, a loss or a draw), importance (i.e. a friendly or a World Cup match), and strength of the nation’s opponent ranking-wise. These points are then accumulated from the country’s past results in the previous four years.