Friday 22 December 2023, 14:00

Panama headline movers and shakers of 2023 men's world ranking

With only a few days left until the end of 2023, it's an opportune time to look back at the progress of men's world football in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking over the past year. Which team made the best progress in 2023? How did national teams perform in their respective confederations? What FIFA development projects supported their growth? Inside FIFA answers these questions.

Unstoppable Panama

The figures for Panama speak for themselves. They started 2023 with 1391.70 points and closed with 1475.62, an increase of almost 84 points - a mark that no other national team came close to matching. This increase means the team finish 2023 ranked in 41st place, a jump of 20 positions compared to twelve months ago.

In the past 365 days, Panama has been prominent in the final stages of Concacaf competitions, being finalists in the Gold Cup - where they lost to Mexico - and finishing fourth in the 2022-23 Concacaf Nations League.

But the victories were not only on the pitch however. Off the field, they scored several significant wins with the support of the FIFA Forward Programme.

Brazil v Panama: Group F - FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023

The preparation for these tournaments took place at the Virgilio Tejeira complex, recently remodelled with funds from the Forward Programme in its 2.0 cycle. The players' changing rooms, medical facilities, and referees' area, among others, underwent a complete overhaul and helped contribute to an unprecedented level of preparation.

Additionally, in February, Panama began constructing their new High-Performance Centre in Burunga, Arraijan. On a site of almost 15 hectares, the High-Performance Centre will contribute as the nation's various representative teams continue to climb and achieve historical milestones, such as the women's team, who this year qualified for the first time for a FIFA Women's World Cup™ in Australia and New Zealand, and also the men's youth team who won their way to the FIFA U-17 World Cup Indonesia 2023™.

World Ranking Best Five Movers 2023 - CONCACAF

World Ranking TeamPoints End of 2022 Points End of 2023 Change 2022-2023
160Puerto Rico974.321007.1932.87
96Trinidad and Tobago1195.291228.0532.76
Paraguay v Colombia - FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifier

In the southern cone of the American continent, Colombia can boast the biggest increase over the last 12 months, earning 42.51 points, which sees them finish 2023 ranked in 14th in the world. Their impressive performance in CONMEBOL qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup 2026™ - where they are in third place - has seen Los Cafeteros remain the only undefeated team with three victories and three draws to date.

Off the pitch, with the support of FIFA, Colombia launched the Football with a Future project, aimed at innovating and strengthening the working methodology of all their national teams. This has already begun to crystallise with Colombia's presence at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Argentina 2023™, where they reached the quarter-finals before being eliminated by eventual runners-up Italy.

World Ranking Best Five Movers 2023 - CONMEBOL

World Ranking TeamPoints End of 2022 Points End of 2023 Change 2022-2023
1Argentina1838.38 1855.2016.82
Darren Lok #9 of Malaysia celebrates with Faisal Halim #7

In the AFC, it was Malaysia who made the largest leap, climbing 15 places from 145 to 130th position over the last twelve months. The Southeast Asian country continues its quest to participate in its first FIFA World Cup and has started the path to the 2026 edition with two victories that place them at the top of Group D in the second round.

The Forward Programme has also played a significant role, with the headquarters and technical centre of the Malaysian Football Federation (FAM) recently renovated, including the installation of an all-weather turf and a grass pitch with floodlights where all Malaysian teams can train.

World Ranking Best Five Movers 2023 - AFC

World Ranking TeamPoints End of 2022 Points End of 2023 Change 2022-2023
Achraf Hakimi shows the paper slip of Equatorial Guinea

Equatorial Guinea has enjoyed the biggest rise among CAF nations. The African side has not been defeated in 2023, where they have collected five wins and two draws, with the last two victories in FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers crucial to reaching 88th place in the World Ranking, their best position since 2015 and an improvement of ten places on their 2022 end-of-year ranking.

With a population of less than two million inhabitants, FIFA has approved a total of USD 7.4 million in funds since 2016 thanks to its FIFA Forward Programme, with the improvement of training fields in the country being one of FEGUIFUT's priorities.

World Ranking Best Five Movers 2023 - CAF

World Ranking TeamPoints End of 2022 Points End of 2023 Change 2022-2023
88Equatorial Guinea1215.661268.4352.77
Solomon Islands fans celebrate during the 2023 Pacific Games

The Solomon Islands have enjoyed the biggest rise in terms of points among OFC nations. The second country in the Confederation in the World Ranking after Aotearoa New Zealand, Solomon Islands continued its steady growth during 2023, in which it played seven matches, with five victories and only one defeat.

The recent host of the 2023 Pacific Games, in which all OFC member federations participated (except New Zealand), the Melanesian nation also received a visit from Gianni Infantino, FIFA President, in August 2023. He visited the new SIFF headquarters and committed to building technical centres throughout the country by 2026 with the help of FIFA Forward funds.

World Ranking Best Five Movers 2023 - OFC

World Ranking TeamPoints End of 2022 Points End of 2023 Change 2022-2023
132Solomon Islands1095.701113.5717.87
159New Caledonia995.581008.9213.34
104New Zealand1193.981197.473.49
Moldavian players celebrate their team's third goal against Poland

In Europe, Moldova claimed the place of honour with their haul of nearly 64 points seeing them climb 19 places to end 2023 ranked at 155, their best position in the World Ranking since 2015. Moreover, they achieved another significant feat when Elkan Mammadov, FIFA Director of Member Associations Europe, presented them with the third prize in the new FIFA Forward Awards, introduced to recognise the best FIFA Forward Programme projects.

World Ranking Best Five Movers 2023 - UEFA

World Ranking TeamPoints End of 2022 Points End of 2023 Change 2022-2023

Men's Ranking