Canada slips to No. 38 in FIFA rankings but remains on upward trajectory

James Sharman joined Sportsnet Central to break down Canada's CONCACAF qualifying success despite their loss to Panama.

After losing two of its last three World Cup qualifiers, Canada has dropped five places to No. 38 in the latest FIFA rankings.

But the Canadian men remain on an upward trajectory after qualifying for the World Cup for the first time since Mexico 86.

While Canada (8-2-4) topped the final CONCACAF qualifying round-robin, its qualification-clinching 4-0 win Sunday over Jamaica at Toronto's BMO Field was sandwiched around 1-0 losses at Costa Rica and Panama. That dropped the Canadians from their record-high of No. 33.

The Canadians, who at No. 38 sit between Cameroon and Scotland, will learn their path at Qatar 2022 on Friday at the World Cup draw in Doha.

Costa Rica, which beat Canada, El Salvador and the U.S. in the final qualifying window, vaulted 11 places to No. 31 in the new rankings, passing the Canadians to stand third in CONCACAF behind Mexico (No. 9, up three) and the U.S. (No. 15. down two).

There has been plenty of progress under Canada coach John Herdman, who inherited a team ranked 10th in CONCACAF and 94th in FIFA when he switched from the women's to the men's program in January 2018.

Canada was sandwiched between Gabon and the Faroe Islands back then, looking up at Mexico, the U.S., Costa Rica, Jamaica, Panama, Haiti, Honduras, Curacao, and Trinidad and Tobago in CONCACAF.

Canada was 73rd when it began the first of three rounds of qualifying in March 2021.

In December, FIFA named No. 40 Canada the "Most Improved Side'' in 2021 for a 32-place jump since the end of 2020. In February, the Canadian men hit their all-time high of No. 33 in the rankings

The Canadians had tied their previous career high when they jumped eight places to No. 40 in the November rankings. Canada also reached No. 40 in December 1996.

Canada's lowest-ever ranking was 122nd, in both August and October 2014.

FIFA, which starting the rankings in 1992, revamped its rating formula in 2018.

Brazil leapfrogged Belgium to take top spot in the newest rankings. France, Argentina and England followed. Italy, Spain, Portugal, Mexico and the Netherlands filled out the top 10.

The Canadians will be in Pot 4 in Friday's World Cup draw along with No. 37 Cameroon, No. 46 Ecuador, No. 49 Saudi Arabia and No. 60 Ghana.

The other three spots in Pot 4 will be filled out by the winners of the two intercontinental playoffs (Australia/United Arab Emirates/Peru or New Zealand/Costa Rica) and the final UEFA qualifier (Ukraine/Scotland/Wales).

The Canadian women, gold medallists at last summer's Tokyo Olympics, are currently ranked sixth by FIFA.

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