Northern Ireland on the rise in latest FIFA rankings

CLIMBING: Michael O'Neill's Northern Ireland

CLIMBING: Michael O'Neill's Northern Ireland

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Northern Ireland have eased into the top 100 in the latest FIFA rankings.

Michael O’Neill’s side have climbed four places into 96th spot.

It highlights further ratings success for O’Neill’s squad after they rose 17 places the previous month.

Northern Ireland are the only home nation to have improved on their position in December.

It follows their 1-1 draw with Azerbaijan in last month’s World Cup qualifier at Windsor Park.

David Healy rescued Northern Ireland with a 96th-minute equaliser to earn what was a disappointing point in Group F.

England remain in sixth position in the latest rankings while Wales have dropped 16 places to 82nd.

Chris Coleman’s men have endured a poor year with just one win over Scotland coming in between six defeats, which has left their chances of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup all but extinguished.

They have fallen behind fellow Group A strugglers Scotland, who drop two places to 72nd, while Republic of Ireland have fallen six spots to 42nd.

Spain finish the year at the top spot, with Germany and Argentina remaining in second and third respectively, while Italy move into fourth spot.

A run of six wins in eight games in 2012 has seen Colombia move up from 36th at the end of last year and into the top five, while Portugal have drifted three places to seventh.

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