Following Nicaragua’s surprise performance in last month’s UNCAF Nation’s Cup in Honduras, the National Soccer Team shot up a whopping 50 points in this month’s world soccer ranking by the FIFA.
Nicaragua is now ranked 132 in the world, its highest ranking ever. The 50-point climb from the 182 ranking held last month makes Nicaragua the most improved team in the world, according to FIFA, the world’s top soccer authority.
Florenzo Leva, secretary general of the Nicaraguan Football Federation (FENIFUT), told The Nica Times this week that the team is “very happy, but not surprised” by its dramatic climb in the ranking.
“The surprise was drawing twice and beating Guatemala in the tournament,” he said, referring to Nicaragua’s showing in the UNCAF Nation’s Cup, in which the team finished in fifth place and qualified for the first time ever for the Gold Cup Soccer Tournament. “We didn’t think we were going to have much luck” (NT, Feb. 6).
Leva noted that Nicaragua moved up more spots in the ranking than Panama, which won the UNCAF tournament and was rewarded by moving up 33 spots in the FIFA ranking, to no. 50 in the world.
“It was more important for us,” he said. However, Leva noted, Nicaragua’s vertical climb now “obligates us to try even harder” in the Gold Cup and other international play in order to prove they are not just a flash in the pan.
He said the team will go to Brazil in June to practice for the Gold Cup, which will be held in the United States in July. In the Gold Cup, Nicaragua will face much stiffer competition, perhaps even the 20th world ranked U.S. Team, the top ranked in the CONCACAF, the soccer federation for North America, Central America and the Caribbean.