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Hosts Russia see off New Zealand in Confederations Cup opener

17 Juin 2017

The Group A first stage match will be Russia's Confederations Cup debut, and it will come in front of a home crowd that has already sent thousands of fans to practices ahead of the tournament.

Participants in the 2017 Confederations Cup are hosts Russian Federation, 2014 FIFA World Cup winners Germany, 2015 Copa America champions Chile, 2015 AFC Asian Cup champions 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 (Afcon) champions Cameroon.

Xinhua identifies five things to look out for during the June 17-July 2 event, which will be played in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Kazan and Sochi.

Cameroon, Australia and New Zealand are not really expected to progress from the group stage, let alone fight for the coveted trophy, but they will attempt to defy the odds and at least improve their position in the Fifa Rankings.

President Vladimir Putin will attend the Group A opening match on June 17 in St. Petersburg's Krestovsky Stadium between Russian Federation and Oceania champions New Zealand.

There is still a year to go until a ball is kicked at the 2018 football World Cup in Russian Federation, but the competition's official warm-up event is already upon us.

Putin even got to meet Pele at half time.

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Harman, a two-time PGA Tour victor from Georgia, said, "I was pretty nervous this morning and I got off to a little shaky start". But the Englishman recovered magnificently with five straight birdies from the 17th, and a 71 left him sharing the lead.

Cherchesov's men were too strong for a limited New Zealand side and were unlucky not to take an early lead, Viktor Vasin heading against the post from an Alexander Samedov corner, with Michael McGlinchey clearing off the line.

But this was Putin's show.

New Zealand lost 1-0 to Belarus in their final match of preparations, and Kosta Barbarouses and Ipswich Town's Tommy Smith replaced Themistoklis Tzimopoulos and Shane Smeltz in the starting lineup.

"When the president of your country comes out to make a speech this mobilizes us", Russian Federation coach Stanislav Cherchesov said through a translator. Last week we were watching some games that they [New Zealand] had been playing. Portugal will play against Mexico in a Confederations Cup, Group A soccer match sche. "They've got the same mentality, the German mentality which is a very good one". We know who can do what and I will not name any players.

Down-under spirit: While the declaration by Australia coach Ange Postecoglou that he is aiming to "win the tournament, mate" might seem overzealous, they should not be taken lightly.

"When the president of your country comes out to make a speech this mobilizes us", said coach Stanislav Cherchesov, a former goalkeeper who played for the national team before and after the fall of communism.

"I wouldn't say in the past years we have been winning a lot of tournaments, but of course we want to achieve more than we have achieved in the past several years in terms of football".

Hosts Russia see off New Zealand in Confederations Cup opener