Published: Sun, June 18, 2017
Sport | By Scott Davis

Russian Federation set for World Cup stress test in Confed Cup

Russian Federation set for World Cup stress test in Confed Cup

New Zealand is now without a win in four trips to the Confederations Cup, and next plays Mexico on Wednesday in Sochi.

It was the ideal start for the Russians in a game played at the new Krestovsky Stadium, where President Vladimir Putin and Federation Internationale de Football Association chief Gianni Infantino both gave speeches before kick-off.

Taking place a year ahead of the 2018 World Cup, the 2017 Confederations Cup will serve as a dress rehearsal for host national Russian Federation, but also several other sides who could be serious candidates for the coveted trophy next summer.

Midfielder Denis Glushakov flicked the ball over goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic in the 31st minute as New Zealand defenders rushed back to try to clear it off the line.

Meanwhile, New Zealand are appearing for the fourth time, although the All Whites are still hunting for a first win in the eight-team competition.

"We have visited Moscow and the St Petersburg stadium and I can say that every technical detail there has been fine-tuned and we can expect one of the best competitions ever here in Russian Federation", said the Senegalese FIFA official.

"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 lovely play".

"Obviously in the first game of the tournament we wanted to get a better result than we did", New Zealand manager Anthony Hudson said.

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.

In addition to the opening game, St. Petersburg will host two other matches during the group stage of the tournament: Cameroon vs Australia on June 22, and New Zealand vs Portugal on June 24.

Playing in the tournament for the first time, Russian Federation were on the front foot and had two early chances cleared off the line in the opening 10 minutes.

Cherchesov felt president Putin's pre-match speech - which ended with the proclamation "Dear friends, let us watch football!"

A Confederations Cup trophy, never mind a World Cup title, might be too much to ask even for Putin, But Saturday was a start.

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