Northern Ireland have risen above the Republic of Ireland in the latest FIFA world rankings.
Michael O’Neill’s side are now 22nd in the rankings – their highest ever ranking – having climbed four places, while the Republic of Ireland have dropped three places to 29th after drawing 1-1 with Austria at the Aviva Stadium last month.
Amazingly, Northern Ireland sat in 129th position in the rankings less than five years ago, shortly after Michael O’Neill took the reins .
Northern Ireland are currently second in their World Cup qualification group behind Germany, four points clear of the chasing pack.
Despite the dip in rankings, the Republic of Ireland sit second in Group D of the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign behind Serbia only on goal difference.
The rankings could play a crucial role in the boys in green’s hopes of qualifying for the World Cup in Russia, as play-offs will be seeded based on world rankings at the time, as was the case for the 2014 World Cup.
According to RTÉ Sport, “were it to be made today, the Northern Irish and Republic of Ireland would face either Euro 2016 champions Portugal, that tournament’s beaten finalists France, 2006 world champions Italy or England’s recent conquerors Iceland.”
England remain in 13th place, but Wales and Scotland have fallen to 20th and 58th respectively.
Germany have overtaken Brazil in the top spot, and Portugal have risen to fourth.