Sao Tome e Principe rocket up Fifa rankings

Saint Sebastian Fort in Sao Tome Town on the island of Sao Tome and Principe

Sao Tome and Principe are celebrating their highest position in Fifa's rankings system after leaping 53 places to 115th spot.

The tiny island nation of just 170,000 inhabitants is now rated above former African champions DR Congo and 2010 World Cup qualifiers New Zealand.

Their success was built upon last week's 2-1 defeat of Sierra Leone in a 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.

This was their fourth competitive match without defeat.

Until three months ago, Sao Tome had not played a match in eight years - prompting them to drop out of the rankings altogether.

Last November, they hosted Congo in a 2014 World Cup qualifier, losing 5-0, but after their long spell of inactivity, a team previously used to a string of poor results staged a remarkable turnaround in fortunes.

In the return leg of their clash with the Red Devils, the islanders managed to avoid defeat in Congo - drawing 1-1.

Earlier this year, Sao Tome won its first Nations Cup qualifier in history - as it knocked Lesotho out in the preliminary round of 2013 qualifying with a 1-0 aggregate victory.

Last week's 2-1 victory against Sierra Leone - beating a country whose population is at least thirty times larger - explains the leap up in the Fifa rankings.

World champions Spain, 5-0 winners over Venezuela last week, stayed top and Netherlands moved into second spot thanks to their 3-2 win over England, swapping places with Germany, who lost 2-1 at home to France.

Five-times world champions Brazil, whose ranking of seventh was their lowest since 1993, climbed to fifth thanks to a 2-1 friendly win over Bosnia.

Meanwhile, Ivory Coast remain the highest African team - in 15th place - while Zambia rose two places to 41st position.