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World Football: Top 10 International Teams on the Up

James WillisAnalyst IMarch 21, 2011

World Football: Top 10 International Teams on the Up

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    Clive Rose/Getty Images

    International football has long been the pinnacle of any player's career, and regardless of how impressive club football has become, international matches are still largely prioritized.

    As of late, a number of nations have been making their mark on the international scene, especially during the qualification and finals of last year's FIFA World Cup.

    With a number of international fixtures coming up at the end of the month as well, there is rarely a better opportunity to judge the merits of the international teams who could make a big impact in World football in the future.

    So here is a list of 10 nations who look set to start making more of a name for themselves in World football soon.

Montenegro

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Confederation: UEFA

    FIFA World Ranking: 25

    Highest FIFA World Ranking: 25

    Lowest FIFA World Ranking: 199

    Reason: Topping their Euro 2012 group that also includes England and Switzerland, Montenegro are proving themselves a team to be contended with in Europe and by 2014 could well be on their way to their first ever World Cup.

Ghana

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    Michael Steele/Getty Images

    Confederation: CAF

    FIFA World Ranking: 15

    Highest FIFA World Ranking: 14

    Lowest FIFA World Ranking: 89

    Reason: Having been a fans' favorite at the 2010 World Cup, Ghana are now on their way to becoming regulars at World Cup knockout stages. With one of the youngest teams at the competition, Ghana could be pioneering a new era for African football.

Bosnia & Herzegovina

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Confederation: UEFA

    FIFA World Ranking: 56

    Highest FIFA World Ranking: 25

    Lowest FIFA World Ranking: 173

    Reason: Just missing out on qualification for the 2010 World Cup losing in the playoffs to Portugal, this nation is now looking to the future and have placed themselves in a good position to qualify for the 2012 European Championships.

New Zealand

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    Phil Walter/Getty Images

    Confederation: OFC

    FIFA World Ranking: 56

    Highest FIFA World Ranking: 47

    Lowest FIFA World Ranking: 156

    Reason: New Zealand was given a hero's welcome when they returned home from the 2010 World Cup, and the impact that had on the nation cannot be underestimated. A boost in interest in football in the country combined with development and future expansion of the A-League means the future looks bright for New Zealand.

Burkina Faso

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    Gallo Images/Getty Images

    Confederation: CAF

    FIFA World Ranking: 41

    Highest FIFA World Ranking: 37

    Lowest FIFA World Ranking: 127

    Reason: While they seem to struggle to make an impact at the African Cup of Nations, recent results suggest that Burkina Faso are starting to progress, and with a very respectable world ranking of 41, they could well be starting an upwards curve in the nation's performance.

Slovenia

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    Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

    Confederation: UEFA

    FIFA World Ranking: 17

    Highest FIFA World Ranking: 15

    Lowest FIFA World Ranking: 134

    Reason: Having given a very good account of themselves at the 2010 World Cup, Slovenia are now looking on course to qualify for the 2012 European Championships. The nation, still relatively young, has a very developed football team and could prove a real force in European football in the future.

USA

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    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    Confederation: CONCACAF

    FIFA World Ranking: 19

    Highest FIFA World Ranking: 4

    Lowest FIFA World Ranking: 35

    Reason: While the USA has been a prominent football nation for a while, the recent development of the MLS has boosted progress for the national team. With a few more strong World Cup performances, USA could become a real force in world football.

Australia

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    Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

    Confederation: AFC (Formerly member of OFC)

    FIFA World Ranking: 21

    Highest FIFA World Ranking: 14

    Lowest FIFA World Ranking: 92

    Reason: With the development of the A-League continuing rapidly, Australia is gradually becoming more of a force in international football. With a promising youngster such as Tommy Oar coming through, they will be regulars at World Cups for a long time to come and could start to make a dent on the established order of World football.


Mexico

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Confederation: CONCACAF

    FIFA World Ranking: 27

    Highest FIFA World Ranking: 4

    Lowest FIFA World Ranking: 33

    Reason: So they're close to the lowest FIFA ranking they've ever had, and they've also had better days in the past, but if the 2010 World Cup is anything to go by, Mexico has a very bright future. The nation has some exceptional young stars breaking through and they could well be ready to make a surprising run by the time the 2014 World Cup comes around.

South Africa

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    Clive Mason/Getty Images

    Confederation: CAF

    FIFA World Ranking: 46

    Highest FIFA World Ranking: 16

    Lowest FIFA World Ranking: 124

    Reason: Despite a number of poor performances before the 2010 World Cup, the nation still finished ahead of the disappointing France in the group stages. The importance of them being the first African hosts of a World Cup must not be underestimated as it has likely inspired a whole new generation of footballers in the country.

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