Big Movers of 1998
France lifted the 1998 World Cup on home soil and overtook Brazil at the top of the rankings after beating them 3-0 in the final. The French who had not impressed in friendly matches leading up to the finals continued in the same vein drawing 1-1 in their opening Euro 2000 qualifier away to Iceland, but Brazil drew against Jamaica and Guatemala, and lost 1-0 to the USA in the Gold Cup, and 1-0 to Norway in the World Cup finishing the year in second place in the rankings.
Sweden who had been sinking in the rankings turned the table midway through the year with back to back wins against Denmark, Italy, Russia, England and Bulgaria to move up a staggering 60 places and claim a more realistic position.
A draw against the newly crowned world champions France and a 1-0 win against Russia in the European qualifiers helped Iceland move up in the rankings.
Hungary had a good year thanks to wins in Austria, Iran and Azerbaijan, and a home draw against a strong Romanian side in the Euro qualifiers.
Ivory Coast moved in the right direction after a respectable African Cup of Nations and 1-0 wins in a friendly against Cameroon and a continental qualifier in Mali.
China defeated hosts Thailand to finish 3rd in the Asian Games and also enjoyed a 2-0 win over Japan and a 1-1 draw with South Korea in friendly away matches.
DR Congo (formerly known as Zaire) beat Togo, Ghana, Cameroon and hosts Burkina Faso on their way to finishing 3rd in Africa and moving up the rankings.
Finland earned away draws in Scotland and Slovakia, and a home draw against Germany in friendly matches before conquering the Turks 3-1 in a qualifier in Istanbul.
Algeria slipped rapidly down the rankings as they exited the African Cup of Nations with no points and suffered a 2-1 loss in a qualifier away to Uganda.
Bulgaria's 6-1 thrashing at the hands of Spain in the World Cup continued with an embarrassing 3-0 home defeat to Poland in a European qualifier and another setback in Europe losing 1-0 at home to Sweden before losing 4-1 in a friendly in Morocco.
Congo moved down the rankings after sharing points with Chad home and away in their continental qualifiers.
Lithuania moved down after losing 3-0 and 5-0 in friendly matches away to Belarus and 2-1 to Azerbaijan in Estonia before being held to a 0-0 draw away to the Faroe Islands in a Euro qualifier.
Bosnia & Herzegovina also found themselves moving down the table after receiving a friendly 5-0 thumping in Argentina and only managing a 1-0 win and a 1-1 draw at home to the Faroe Islands and Estonia respectively, before losing 3-1 to the Czechs and ending the year with a 4-2 home defeat to Lithuania in the Euro qualifiers.
Some of the more unexpected results of the year were Antigua & Barbuda's 5-1 win over Martinique and Latvia's 3-1 Euro qualifier victory in Norway. In other noteworthy matches Ghana triumphed 3-1 in Cameroon, and Oman celebrated a 4-2 success over Iran in Bangkok.
Five countries joined the rankings in 1998 . Andorra moved straight into the 120th slot having beaten Azerbaijan 2-0 and lost by the relatively narrow margins of 3-0 and 2-0 to Brazil and France respectively. Martinique occupied 129th spot on the strength of their 4-1 shock win over Barbados, 5-0 demolition of Dominica and 2-1 win in St Lucia. British Virgin Islands, Cook Islands and Tonga moved in at the bottom of the table.