Wednesday, December 17, 2008



December 17 2008

At last, Kenyan football players can now breathe easy as they have easier access into the English Premier League and the top European leagues after a landmark leap by the country in the latest Fifa world rankings.

The world football governing body’s global rankings released on Wednesday have seen Kenya climb to an all-time high 68th place.

According to English Premier League regulations that govern other top European Union leagues, any non-European Union player applying for a work permit to play in Europe must have played for his country’s national senior team in at least 75 percent of its competitive matches.

“The player should also have been available for selection during the previous two years, and his country must have averaged at least 70th place in the official Fifa world rankings over the previous two years,” the stringent EU regulation states.

Jumping into the top 70 in the world rankings for the first time offers Kenyan players a great opportunity to market their talent in Europe.

“Wow! I can’t believe this! This is a very impressive trend by the national side. It’s an achievement well deserved,” said Kenya Premier League chairman, Bob Munro on Wednesday.

This is the highest ranking the national team has ever achieved in the country’s 45-year-old history in global competition.

According to the Fifa rankings, the Harambee Stars is one of the world’s most improved sides in 10th place.

“Now this has opened the way for better things for all of us,” said Tanzania-based Stars striker Boniface Ambani who is Tanzanian champions Yanga’s top scorer.

After their recent success in the 2010 World Cup/African Nations Cup qualifiers, Kenya moved up an unprecedented 24 places and now stand as the 68th best team in the world and 14th in Africa.

The Harambee Stars has climbed up the ladder to the top of the east and central Africa region and 14th in Africa.

The rest of the region’s nations fall behind Kenya in the order of Uganda 71 in the world (17 in Africa), Sudan 93 (25), Tanzania 99 (28), Ethiopia 103 (30), Burundi 136 (39), Eritrea 162 (45), Djibouti 188 (49) and Somalia at 200 (51).

Cameroon leads other African countries in the rankings, despite having had lost a point from the previous rankings and are 14th in world.

Egypt (16th in the world), Nigeria (19) Ghana (25) and Cote d’Ivoire (29) complete Africa’s top five positions.

Spain remained unchallenged at the top of the world rankings and are also Fifa’s Team of the Year.