12 national teams that surprised in 2019

Expectations exceeded

12 national teams that surprised in 2019

  • Won the Africa Cup of Nations
  • No goals conceded in the group stage
  • First AFCON triumph in 29 years
  • Biggest mover in the July FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking

  • Reached Concacaf Gold Cup semi-finals for first time since 1981
  • Pushed eventual winners Mexico into extra time


  • Two war-torn countries that top their respective 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying groups



  • Won their group at FIFA Women's World Cup ahead of Brazil and Australia
  • Ousted China PR in the round of 16
  • Italy


  • Made it to the final of the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2019
  • Lee Kangin awarded adidas Golden Ball
  • Korea



  • Came close to directly qualifying for UEFA EURO 2020
  • Beat the Czech Republic 2-1
  • Scored three goals in England
  • Kosovo

  • Won the 2019 AFC Asian Cup
  • First Asian title for the 2022 FIFA World Cup hosts
  • Qatar

  • Reached the final of their second ever FIFA Women's World Cup
  • Flawless record in group stage
  • Ousted Japan, Italy and Sweden on their way to the final
  • Netherlands women

  • Won their EURO 2020 qualifying group ahead of Portugal
  • Beat the European champions 2-1 at home

  • Ukraine

  • Won FIFA U-20 World Cup for the first time ever

  • Ukraine U-20

  • Made AFC Asian Cup quarter-finals for the first time
  • Won three consecutive FIFA World Cup qualifiers for the first time

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