‘Leone Stars will drop 100 points and 10 places in next FIFA Ranking’


By: Rodney Edmond Michael

“The next FIFA world football ranking is due to be released on the 6th of June 2014, and the great news is our darling Leone Stars will make a considerable jump from 484 points to 565 points, and in terms of position from our current 71 in the world to mid 50s…”

This was the introduction to the article I released last week on social media and published by several media houses in Sierra Leone, and once it was released on Thursday 6th June 2014, it delighted so many Sierra Leoneans worldwide…in fact there was so much jubilation which prompted many to feel obliged to commend me for the bearer of such wonderful news, as I had published it a week or so before FIFA released it.

I received rave reviews from hundreds of Sierra Leoneans the world over… through emails, postings on social sites and listserv, text messages, phone calls and best of all was when passionate brothers and sisters in the wonderful capital would come up to me and appreciate my knowledge.

Well there was a hidden agenda, and yes I can sometimes be tricky and clever, especially when I want to help others understand a complex issue, and there are very few issues in sports more complex than FIFA ranking, and why I have always advocated we should focus on qualifications rather than ranking, and should consider rankings as just a bonus if we qualify or a consolation if we fail.

There was a post on Facebook by a contributor with the words: “FIFA and CAF must be provoking us. How can we climb 17 places when we cannot even qualify for any competition?” Sounds funny…but sometimes makes one wonder!

In truth I have always regarded rankings as important, but not for the National interest per se, but rather for the application of work permit for our players…and that is the most important aspect of rankings, as it eases the conditions or requirements for work permit especially in the main European countries, the big money league countries like England, Spain, Germany, Italy and France.

This brings me to the sad news due when FIFA releases the next ranking which may be very late in June or very early in July, as the date is being considered with the World Cup probably influencing the decision.

Sierra Leoneans must be prepared to face massive disappointment, just 4 weeks after celebrating the rise in ranking to 54th position out of 209 countries, as we are set to lose 96 ranking points and revert to 469 ranking points from our current 565 ranking points. This implies that we will drop about 10 places to the mid 60s worldwide….and we will also drop to about 15th position in Africa from our current 9th position…if not worse!

This should serve as a lesson that the ranking may be important but should not be our focus and with Sierra Leone not due to play any match until late July and early August against lowly Seychelles, our ranking position is dependent on the ranking points and the complex average weight we earned over the last 4 years. And since our FA (or the Ministry?) has not been able to negotiate friendly matches, the Nation has no chance of determining or influencing its destiny and would have to rely on past results and other nations’ performances and weight points earned over the years.

Our ranking position in the near future, that is if God forbids we fail to progress against Seychelles, may not be in our hands and we would probably be losing ranking points and dropping positions every month and probably very rapidly. And even if we qualify against Seychelles, the tough group of Ivory Coast, Cameroun and Congo may imply our chances of earning points will be harder.

Therefore I would like to conclude by advising the authorities in charge of our National Team and the Technical Team to focus on qualification and not to be overwhelmed by the unpredictable ranking positions, as qualification is one achievement ranking points can never be compared to, and if you were to ask any Sierra Leonean worldwide what he or she prefers….ranked very high in the world or qualifying for a major competition….their preference will be unanimous and easy to reach…..QUALIFICATION!

There is more to be done. In fact a lot more to be done if we want to give ourselves a chance to qualify for CAN 2015 or beyond for any other tournament…and work needs to be done as nothing visible is seen currently. That responsibility is with the authorities and we can only pray they do what they should to ease the burden of qualification on the technical team and the players. I have already proffered some advice on the way forward in previous articles and would not want to elaborate any further.

Like all Sierra Leoneans, I wish Leone Stars the best of luck for qualification, and they remain my darling, your darling and our darling, and forever we will be proud of them, and thereafter I will wish them the best of luck with rankings. Morocco 2015 here we come…if we prepare well!