Gareth Bales’ Wales took a huge new stride in their spectacular football rise Thursday when they entered the global top 10 for the first time and became one of the top European seeds for World Cup qualifying. .
Chris Coleman’s team are already closing in on a place for next year’s European Championships. And as one of the top nine ranked European teams they will be a seed in the World Cup qualifying competition draw on July 25 in St Petersburg.
Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, England, Wales, Spain and Croatia make up Europe’s seeded teams. The likes of Italy and France were squeezed out as they fell in the new world rankings released Thursday.
Wales manager Chris Coleman said the rise reflected work on the pitch — where Wales beat Belgium in a dramatic Euro 2016 qualifier last month — and behind the scenes.
“It’s fantastic for the team’s efforts to be recognised along with those who have played an important role off the pitch, from the backroom staff to our brilliant fans,” Coleman told FAW Radio.
“However, our focus absolutely remains on qualification for Euro 2016.
“That will be the measurement of success.”
After their Belgium win, Wales are three points clear at the top of Group B with four games remaining as they bid to reach their first major finals since 1958.
Wales climbed 12 places from 22nd to 10th in the July rankings.
They were a lowly 117th in August 2011 but are now just one place behind England — who jumped six places to ninth — and are above France, Italy, Spain and new Copa America champions Chile.
With Real Madrid’s Bale and Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey playing a key role, Wales have lost only one of their last 11 matches.