Former Malawi coach Marinica’s Liberia breaks record as highest climber in FIFA World Rankings from 152 to 142

* As Flames maintain position 125 and dropping one place in Africa at 35 from 34 in February

* Namibia hurtle themselves up nine places at 97th in world and 22 in Africa as Tunisia at 41 in world and 6th in Africa

* Equatorial Guinea at 89 and 17 in Africa while São Tomé e Principe last in Africa and 192 in world

By Duncan Mlanjira

Liberia, coached by former Malawi national team mentor, Mario Marinica, have made a tremendous improvement in their performance such that they have jumped 10 places on the FIFA World Rankings from 152 to 142 and earning position 42 in Africa.


While the Flames have maintain their position 125 in the world but dropping one place in Africa at 35 from 34 in February.

Flames’ other opponents in the FIFA World Cup 2026™ qualifiers have seen Namibia hurtling themselves up nine places at 97th in world and 22 in Africa as Tunisia are at 41 in world and 6th in Africa.

Equatorial Guinea, who beat the Flames 1-0 last week in the FIFA World Cup 2026™ qualifiers, are at 89 and 17 in Africa while São Tomé e Principe — whom the Flames beat 3-1 — are last in Africa and 192 in world.

Equatorial Guinea are a team with the biggest drop by points (down 47.53 points) and also biggest drop by ranks (down 10 ranks).

Following the completion of Matchday 3 & 4, Tunisia lead Group H with 10 points from three wins — against São Tomé, Malawi, Equatorial Guinea and a 0-0 draw against Namibia.

The Brave Warriors of Namibia, who also beat São Tomé in Match Day 1, are second with 8 points from two draws and an extra win at 3-0 they earned after FIFA awarded them the 0-1 loss they suffered against Equatorial Guinea.

This was after the Equatoguineans had played an ineligible Emilio Nsue against the Namibians as well as against Liberia, who were also awarded three points at 3-0 win.

That puts Liberia at position 3 on the table of two wins, one draw and 1-0 loss they suffered at the hands of the Flames at their home turf in Monrovia on Matchday 1 last November.

Following their bitter loss to Equatorial Guinea, with the winning goal scored in the dying minutes (81st), the Flames are at unenviable 4th with six points.

On FIFA website, it highlights that Liberia’s gaining the most ground over the period is being unbeaten in 2024 and also the draw against Namibia – a team who were almost 50 places ahead of Liberia in the rankings.

This increase sees Liberia in their highest position in seven years and FIFA takes cognizance “the upturn in fortune follows significant investment in football from the Liberia Football Association (LFA) and the FIFA Forward programme.

“On the overall we extend thanks and appreciation to FIFA Council for the continuous support and the FIFA Forward programs,” LFA president, Mustapha Raji is quoted as saying by “This has been a key factor in the survival of Liberia football. We believe that with these supports, our football will continue to improve for the good of the game.”

The year 2023 saw LFA opening its new headquarters in the capital, Monrovia, with the project fully funded by FIFA Forward and supported through FIFA’s regional office in Dakar.

The new headquarters were the first to be owned by the LFA and serves as the home for national teams as well as providing administrative services, referee and coaching programmes, and sports media training.


On the rankings, FIFA took consideration of continental confederations participation in the FIFA World Cup 26™️ and the warm-up matches, which include the 4-Nations Tournament Malawi hosted dating Kenya, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Malawi lost both of their matches while Kenya beat the hosts before winning against Zimbabwe to clinch the trophy. After losing to Zimbabwe, Zambia went on to beat the Flames in third place playoff.

Meanwhile, Argentina retain their place at the summit, with France 2nd; Belgium 3rd; Brazil 4th; England 5th; Portugal 6th; the Netherlands 7th; Spain 8th; Croatia 9th and Italy 10th.

The next edition of the FIFA World Ranking will be published on July 18 after the conclusion of the UEFA Euro 2024 currently underway in Germany.

Marinica was first appointed by Football Association of Malawi (FAM) as technical director in 2021 and when the Flames qualified for the AFCON Cameroon 2021 under coach Meck Mwase, he was elevated as head coach.

But the teams was led by Mwase in two games as the Romanian was under quarantine after being detected of CoVID-19 and he went on to be in charge for the knockout stage match that the Flames lost to Morocco.

He was then fired after the Flames poor run in the AFCON 2023 qualifiers that culminated in a 0-4 home loss to Egypt and he was then  hired as Liberia coach in February after a successful spell with his native Romania as an analyst during the 2024 Euro qualification campaign.

In an interview with the Nation newspaper after been signed on by the LFA in February, Marinica he will have no point to prove when his team is to face Malawi in the FIFA World Cup 2026™ qualifier.

This was after the Flames had beaten the Lone Stars in Matchday 1 in November, saying: “I do not have to prove anything to anyone. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, it depends on how they look at the situation.”

He, however, told the Nation’s Garry Chirwa that facing the Flames will have an emotional touch: “Absolutely! The team and the country that gave me a warm welcome and made me feel at home. But that’s the funny part of football — this time you are on the same side and the next you are competitors, but it doesn’t mean you become enemies.

“I look forward to meeting so many good friends in Malawi, some are now temporary football competitors, but were companions when we wrote our piece of history at AFCON 2021 for Malawi by qualifying for the knockout stage.”