One of the most perplexing issues in international football — at least to the ordinary fan — is how the Fifa ranking of national teams is done.
Many fans never seem to understand just by what calculus the world federation of football arrives at the results. And yet the rankings have always been greeted with pride in some quarters, with shock in others and with utter suspicion by many.
Hitherto, the rankings gave much more weight to Uefa and Conmebal and less regard for other confederations. The unfair result was glaring for all to see and fuelled even more suspicion to the many other nations.
The top 50 places in the rankings were from Europe and South America. By June 10 last year, the system changed to amend these anomalies and the Elo system of ranking was adopted.
The gist of it is that the new system adds or subtracts points based on the result of a match rather than calculating an average. The amount added (or subtracted) is calculated based on the strength of the opponent and the importance of the match.
The results of this new dispensation is easy to see. The teams that used to rig the system by avoiding playing friendlies are now in a lurch.
Previously, some countries like Wales and Romania played hardly any friendly games in the year before Fifa decided the pots for qualifying groups in an attempt to ensure that they were in the highest pot possible.
Another importance of this change is that the English work permit system which is based on Fifa rankings is evolving with it.
It required that players from lowly ranked nations could not easily get into the English Premier League.
They had to go through other European leagues just to seek to play in the EPL. This evokes the memory of our own Victor Wanyama who had to go to long circles just to join Tottenham!
This year, Kenya started at position 105, we then moved to position 106 and now after the defeat in Ghana, we have moved to position 109.
Well, we have qualified for the Cup of Nations finals this year. We must put more efforts so that our players may get better chance to play top flight football.
Our rank will also be bettered by playing more friendlies since the new system does not reward those teams that run away from friendly matches as they did before.
Many fans deride these friendly matches but they give our team a chance to blood younger players and discover more talent. We should plan even more outings for the lads so that we can get better.
For a while now, we have tried to plead with the federation and the ministry of sports to give more time for Harambee Stars’ preparations for the forthcoming Afcon.
We have done that even with the fear of boring our fans but we are yet to see any proper commitment from these quarters.
We will not give up and if in the end we are made the thumping bags of the competition, we shall tongue lash them. That’s all we can do.
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