Confederations Cup Preview: teams and star players

St. Petersburg: Hosts Russia eased to a 2-0 win over New Zealand on Saturday in the opening match of the Confederations Cup, a tournament seen as a test for the country before it stages next year's World Cup. On the other hand, Group B is composed of 2014 World Cup champions Germany, 2015 AFC Cup champions Australia, 2015 Copa America winners Chile and Cameroon, the 2017 Africa Cup Nations champions.

His comments flatly contradicted an anti-racism group's report 48 hours earlier which detailed incidents including an African player complaining of racist abuse by an opponent during a Russian Premier League game and a hardline fan group segregating part of a stadium for people of "Slavic appearance".

Group A rivals Portugal, led by Cristiano Ronaldo, and Mexico meet in Kazan on Sunday, with Russia's next game against the Portuguese in Moscow on Wednesday.

The Russian president made it a national priority to win hosting rights for the 2018 World Cup in a fierce Federation Internationale de Football Association bidding contest seven years ago.

"As far as the Confederations Cup is concerned, tickets are never sold out".

"Here, on modern football arenas there will be tough, honest, fair fight until the last minutes of the match", Putin said in Russian, adding that the eight-team, two-week event would "unite nations and continents, to promote the values of fair and handsome play".

At the open training session, the Russian team as a whole was in a good mood with the anticipation of the beginning of the tournament. Just six minutes in, a corner swung in and defender Viktor Vasin got his head to it, but he hit the inside of the post and failed to go in before Michael McGlinchy cleared it off the line.




Dmitry Poloz then went down under a challenge from New Zealand goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic in the area, but the Colombian referee waved away the penalty appeals and there was no intervention from the video assistant.

Russia's opening goal had an ugly finish after two pretty pieces of individual skill once the All-Whites defense needlessly lost the ball.

Alexander Yerokhin sparked the attack with an interception around 30 yards from goal, and his pass was helped on by Poloz into the path of Denis Glushakov.

"I think that my rights have been violated", Shprygin said. "We feel very optimistic coming into this tournament". "Iceland had a great campaign past year and tournaments are full of that, full of teams stepping up, going to the next level as a nation and we are the same, we want to do that". "That means we still have plenty of homework to do".

Smolov's goal was rightly ruled offside before Russian Federation took the lead on 31 minutes.

Russian Federation and New Zealand will be battling on the pitch today to win the game.

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