Tuesday, 21 November, 2017

Putin present to see Russia kick off Confederations Cup

Damon Campbell | 24 June, 2017, 01:33

South American champions Chile, European champions Portugal and world champions Germany, despite leaving several of their top stars at home, are the favorites.

There's heavy pressure on Russian Federation to perform at the Confederations Cup, and with a slew of dignitaries in attendance on Saturday, the home team delivered. The first game for us is Russian Federation and we want to win that game. In attack they have inconsiderable talents of Alan Dzagoev, Artem Dzyuba, and Aleksandr Kokorin, they have more than enough firepower against New Zealand. Against higher-calibre opposition, their lack of depth and experience is likely to have told, but this was a good day for Russian Federation and one they can build upon.

Federation Internationale de Football Association president Gianni Infantino opened the tournament with a speech inside the St Petersburg Stadium, with Russian president Vladimir Putin and legendary Brazil footballer Pele in attendance.

"When the president of our country comes out to make a speech it mobilises us and gives us great motivation, but it also adds to our responsibilities", he said after the match.

"Fans (must) understand that they will be jeopardizing the game by refusing systematically to respect fair play", Samoura said at a briefing.

"Putin has left unfortunately", admitted Cherchesov, with an air of resignation.

Spurred on by a pre-match pep-talk from president Vladimir Putin, the hosts started strongly, coming close to opening the scoring twice in the space of the first 10 minutes.

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Hudson though insists his players are raring to go in Russian Federation.

Portugal manager Fernando Santos has suggested that he will rotate his squad through the group stages, with the final game in particular against New Zealand likely to see plenty of changes in personnel.

"We have to be very single-minded and tough", Hudson said. Yet if they had wanted an uncomplicated opener in which to introduce their country to the wider world ahead of next year's World Cup on home soil, the Kiwis offered the ideal opponents. They were full of running, were sharp and quick.

"However, we were playing against a very strong Russian team".

"Judging by the game, it seemed the quality (of the pitch) was rather good".

New Zealand survived until halftime without suffering further damage but Marinovic was called into action again soon after the break, keeping out another good effort by Poloz. "Everything has gone well".

The fans arrived two days in advance - and have had a chance to enjoy arguably Russia's most picturesque city at an unusually spectacular time.

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