We have some breaking news, which are anticipating FIFA will soon confirm to WGF. FIFA has notified CAF nations that it will create a special edition of its rankings during the period of June 8-10. This special edition will be used for the World Cup pots, which will take place on June 24th.
This is decidedly different than simply using the June FIFA rankings which will be released on June 2nd. CAF seemed all but certain to use the standard rankings released once a month. Nobody could have seen this coming. The intent, clearly, is to include the 2017 AFCON Qualifying matches in the rankings. These matches, to be played from June 3rd-5th, otherwise would not have wound up being included in the June rankings.
This seems like a lot of hassle to include one extra game, and it begs the question who pushed for it? Why would FIFA do this? Based on our analysis, we think we have a hunch.
The World Cup Pots
Effective with the current April rankings, Nigeria, Egypt and Tanzania’s matches against Chad are removed from the rankings due to their AFCON exit. Based on what we previously have indicated, here is what the June Rankings would look like if there were no additional matches scheduled:
Now, with additional matches, these are subject to change. While we do not know the exact date of the rankings release yet, we’re going to guess June 9th, as that would coincide with FIFA’s Thursday releases. Our projected results for the June AFCON Qualifiers are as follows:
- Tunisia WIN over Djibouti
- Congo DR WIN over Madagascar
- Mali WIN over South Sudan
- Zambia DRAW with Guinea-Bissau
- Congo WIN over Kenya
- Cape Verde Islands WIN over Sao Tome e Principe
- Morocco WIN over Libya
- Ivory Coast WIN over Gabon
- Senegal WIN over Burundi
- Guinea WIN over Swaziland
- Cameroon DRAW against Mauritania
- South Africa WIN over Gambia
- Burkina Faso DRAW against Comoros
- Egypt WIN over Tanzania
- Uganda WIN over Botswana
- Algeria WIN over Seychelles
- Ghana WIN over Mauritius
Nigeria does not currently have a match scheduled, as their meeting with Chad was cancelled due to Chad’s withdrawal.
We only project one swapping of positions: Uganda into Pot 3 and South Africa into Pot 4. Here’s what it could look like:
What Could Happen
We thought we were done with this, but it appears not! Based on the results of each team’s June match, here’s how they could shuffle between the pots.
It just seems so, so odd that FIFA is doing this. The top 4 teams are still locked into Pot 1. The bottom 4 teams still locked into Pot 4. And just a bunch of teams who aren’t far off in quality could shuffle between Pots 2 and 3.
There’s one obvious culprit who complained to FIFA: Tunisia. They were in Pot 2, but including this game, they still have a chance to get in over Egypt. Interestingly enough, the only federation publicly indicating the FIFA decision on the special rankings was: Tunisia.
Here are some past WGF tweets during AFCON 2015 and World Cup 2014 Qualifying:
— We Global Football (@We_Global) September 12, 2013
Tunisia FA needs to win some games and stop lodging protests with CAF. Did it twice in WC2014 qualifying and now again at AFCON.
— We Global Football (@We_Global) January 21, 2015
JUST IN: #Tunisia FA has already filed a protest with CAF over Zambia's goal.
— We Global Football (@We_Global) January 22, 2015
Odds are 1/30 that Tunisia protests. 50/1 no protest. #AFCON2015
— We Global Football (@We_Global) January 31, 2015
It’s far easier to hit up our Consulting page at the top of the page. We’d be happy to explain the process to reduce the number of lodged protests. We can’t say for sure it was them, but based on situation and history, the choice seems obvious.
This is a largely unnecessary change, and keeps things unsettled until almost the very end. The other team really hurt is Cape Verde. They had a shot to get into Pot 1 by scheduling a friendly, but by moving the rankings, they are just too far to move up. Congo DR has a slight, slight chance to get in.
The craziest thing about all of this is that it truly matters what day the rankings are released because of the way FIFA calculates points. If Egypt, Cape Verde, and Tunisia all win, here are the ranking dates and corresponding final Pot 1 team.
- 6/2 – Egypt
- 6/3 – Egypt
- 6/4 – Cape Verde
- 6/5 – Cape Verde
- 6/6 – Cape Verde
- 6/7 – Tunisia
- 6/8 – Egypt
- 6/9 – Egypt
- 6/10 – Egypt
- 6/11 – Tunisia
- 6/12 – Egypt
- 6/13 – Tunisia
- 6/14 & After – Egypt
This is not a joke. The FIFA Rankings are derived entirely off of when the rankings are released. Until FIFA confirms an official date, we’re left to wonder. This whole thing may be one of the shadiest moves we’ve seen in awhile. AFCON qualifiers won’t conclude until 6/5, so 6/6 is the absolute earliest. 6/9 makes the most sense, but if Egypt is able to defeat Tanzania and it turns out to be 6/7, Egypt should launch every formal protest measure in existence.
Thanks for reading and following our pot projections. We’ll keep things updated as they change (which seems to be far too frequently).