Hosts Russia see off New Zealand in Confederations Cup opener

Russia's players duly delivered a victory their head of state had all but demanded this week by beating a poor New Zealand team 2-0.

"This is a challenging project, which includes transport, hotels and etc". This year's tournament will be held between June 17 and July 2 at four stadiums in Russian Federation and they are Spartak Stadium in Moscow, St. Petersburg Stadium, Fisht Stadium in Sochi and the Kazan Arena in Kazan.

A new pitch had to be laid hastily after the old one broke up during test games this year, but organisers insist the 68,000-seater arena is ship shape for the June 17 opener and July 2 final.

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.

Shprygin, who had been deported from France previous year during the European Championship, said he had been notified by Confederations Cup organisers that his fan-ID, needed to attend matches, had been cancelled.

Portugal and Mexico, who meet today, are the other two teams in Group A.

Heavyweights Germany will clash with Asian Cup champions Australia, Africa Cup of Nations winners Cameroon and Copa America holders Chile in Group B.

"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.

And Samoura said that 480,000 tickets had already been sold-60 percent of the overall total.

The tournament's organising committee told Reuters it had launched a programme allowing "underprivileged Russian fans" to attend matches for free and that local authorities were in charge of distributing those tickets.

Shprygin was among a group of Russian fans expelled from France after violence flared before and during Russia's Euro 2016 match against England in Marseille.

Putin arrived by helicopter close to the stadium barely 20 minutes before kickoff, and he was soon installed in the main grandstand making a speech to open the tournament.

  • Zachary Reyes