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Canada rose three places to No. 75 in the latest FIFA world rankings, surpassing CONCACAF rival Panama in the process.

The Canadian men now stand seventh in CONCACAF, which covers North and Central America and the Caribbean. John Herdman’s team needs to crack the top six in the region in order to take the most direct path in 2022 World Cup qualifying.

The top six in the rankings after the FIFA window of June, 2020, will automatically qualify for what’s known as CONCACAF’s Hex qualifying round. The top three after the round-robin Hex qualify for Qatar.

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CONCACAF countries ranked No. 7 through 35 will slog it out through a qualifying round with the last team standing playing the fourth-place team in the Hex to determine who advances to a FIFA intercontinental playoff with a World Cup berth on the line.

The Canadians are coming off wins of 6-0 and 1-0 over No. 178 Cuba in CONCACAF Nations League play. They can pick up more valuable ranking points if they can get a result against the U.S., which moved up one place to No. 21, in CONCACAF Nations League play in October and November.

Canada vaulted past Panama, which dropped three places to No. 77 after losing 2-0 to No. 167 Bermuda on Sept. 8. The Canadians now have their sights set on El Salvador, which stands sixth in CONCACAF despite dropping four places to No. 72 after losing 1-0 to the 155th-ranked Dominican Republic on Sept. 10.

The top six in CONCACAF currently are Mexico (No. 21), the U.S. (21), Costa Rica (43), Jamaica (47), Honduras (67) and El Salvador (72).

Belgium remains No. 1 followed by 2018 World Cup winner France, which trades places with No. 3 Brazil. England stays at No. 4 and European champion Portugal rises one place to No. 5.

Uruguay, Spain, Croatia, Colombia and Argentina make up the rest of the top 10.

Germany, the 2014 World Cup winner, fell one place to No. 16.

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As the 11th-highest-ranked European team, Germany risks being in the second-seeded pot and getting a tougher opponent when qualifying groups for the 2022 World Cup are drawn, likely next year.

Germany lost a 2020 European Championships qualifier this month to the Netherlands, which rises three places to No. 13. Italy also moves above Germany to No. 15.

Senegal is Africa’s best at No. 20. Iran at No. 23 tops Asian confederation teams.

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