The Northern Ireland senior women’s team’s recent exploits in Euro qualifiers have been reflected in the latest FIFA Coca-Cola World Rankings.
For the first time in their history the senior women’s team have entered the world’s Top 50. They have moved up six places in the rankings to reach 49th on the list.
It follows a remarkable autumn in which they won four games on the bounce to secure a play-off for a place at Women’s Euro 2022 in England.
In September the Northern Ireland senior women's side defeated the Faroe Islands 6-0 in Tórshavn.
That excellent victory for Kenny Shiels’ side in Women’s Euro 2022 Qualifying Group C was the first step to securing a play-off place.
Wins away and at home against Belarus (1-0 and 3-2) followed before a 5-1 victory over the Faroes at the start of this month meant they finished second in their group and reached the play-offs.
They entered 2020 sitting on two points following two draws against second seeds Wales, and two defeats to top seeds Norway, in their opening set of Euro qualifiers last year. But by the end of the year they had secured a further 12 points in Group C to keep their Euros dream very much alive.
The draw for the play-offs will be made in early March after all qualifiers have been completed. The play-offs, which are scheduled to be played over two legs, will be staged in April.
The group winners in the qualifiers and the three runners-up with the best record against the sides first, third, fourth and fifth in their sections automatically join hosts England in the final tournament.
The other six runners-up (including Northern Ireland, Russia and Ukraine to date) will play off in April for the remaining three berths in the 16-team finals.
USA will see out 2020 at the top of the global standings with their highest points total for more than six years.
Immediately below the world champions are Germany (2nd), over whom the Stars and Stripes have increased their lead, and France (3rd). England are currently ranked sixth in the world, while Group C winners Norway are in 11th position in the rankings and Wales are in 31st place.