Hosts Russia see off New Zealand in Confederations Cup opener


Participants in the 2017 Confederations Cup are hosts Russian Federation, 2014 FIFA World Cup Champions Germany, 2015 Copa America Champions Chile, 2015 AFC Asian Cup Champion Australia, 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup winners Mexico, 2016 UEFA Euro Cup champs Portugal, OFC (Oceania Football Confederation) Nations Cup victors New Zealand and 2017 CAF Africa Cup of Nations Champion Cameroon.

"The fact the leader of the country came to the match is on the one hand an additional positive, but it is also an additional responsibility", Cherchesov, whose team face Portugal, Wednesday, told reporters.

The Confederations Cup is underway as the championship kicks off in Saint Petersburg Russia tomorrow.

"For Russia this is a great holiday, we have been preparing for it over the past several years".

"The Confederations Cup is the champions' tournament".

Played out under the warm St Petersburg sun, the afternoon began with a colourful and entertaining opening ceremony featuring a cast of 12 dancers and more than 2,000 artists.

The 2017 Federations Cup organizing committee is chaired by Russia's Deputy Prime Minister and President of the Russian Football Union Vitaly Mutko.

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FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura said Russia's readiness had "surpassed expectations".

With an average age of just 24 years and four months, and a combined total of 179 worldwide appearances, Germany have the most youthful squad of the eight Confederation Cup teams.

"It is the experience and knowledge that will be of enormous value for 2018".

Both are tucked in a favorable Group A, with No. 95 New Zealand and the host country, No. 63 Russian Federation.

Besides Russia and New Zealand, Portugal, Mexico, Cameroon, Chile, Australia and Germany have also sent their national teams to participate in the cup. For Portugal, the match will be a chance for Cristiano Ronaldo and company to add another accomplishment to last year's stunning UEFA Euro 2016 title.

Russian authorities insist there is nearly no chance of a repeat as police have cracked down on suspected troublemakers with a barrage of searches, detentions and criminal probes.

Smith acknowledged that Russian Federation had done "some intense fine-tuning" ahead of the tournament.