Malta ended 2018 in the 182nd place in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking for December, therefore staying behind Moldova (170) and Liechtenstein (181) and ahead of Gibraltar (194) and San Marino (211).
In 2018, Malta played ten matches – four friendlies and six Nations League qualifiers. Under the guidance of Tom Saintfiet, Malta suffered a narrow defeat to Luxembourg but then lost heavily to Finland – 5-0. Ray Farrugia took over in May and led the team in a 1-1 draw with Armenia and a narrow defeat to Georgia in two friendly matches. In the UEFA Nations League, Malta drew three matches – twice against Azerbaijan and once against the Faroe Islands, losing the other three matches.
Malta wil be in action once again in March, hosting the Faroe Islands and Spain in the first two matches from the European Qualifiers leading to the EURO 2020.
Photo: Copyright © Andrew Grima
Meanwhile Belgium will begin 2019 at the top of the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, having preserved their single-point lead over France at the table’s summit and emerged as the Ranking’s ‘Team of the Year’.
Les Bleus’ stellar 2018 does not go unrecognised though, with the world champions established as the year’s ‘Best Mover’, having gained more points (165) since December 2017 than any other nation. The French lead that particular table from Uruguay (7th, unchanged) and Kosovo (131st, unchanged), who have registered net gains of 151 and 133 points respectively.
The Kosovans, meanwhile, are the biggest climbers in terms of ranks gained, having moved up 46 places since this time last year, comfortably ahead of the respective 31 and 30-place rises registered by Kuwait (158th, unchanged) and El Salvador (70th, unchanged).
It has been a good year in general for Europe, which now accounts for 31 of the top 50 teams – two up from December 2017. Asia has also boosted its top-50 numbers from two to three, with these rises coming at the expense of Africa, which saw its representation drop from eight to five.