Putin thanks Federation Internationale de Football Association for helping Russia in arranging Confederations Cup

Hosts Russia kick off the Confederations Cup against New Zealand in St Petersburg today, targeting victory in their opening match to set the tone for a successful tournament.

Boxall once again made a mess of his attempted clearance and Smolov stabbed the ball into an open net at the far post to seal the three points.

Putin, fully aware of the discord between fans and arguably the worst Russian Federation team in a generation, went on national television on Thursday and told Stanislav Cherchesov's players to shape up, sharpish.

This competition offers Russian Federation a chance to showcase its readiness to host the 2018 World Cup amidst off-field concerns surrounding hooliganism and security. "There are other quality players. we have to control the ball as much as possible".

World Cup holders Germany and the six winners of Federation Internationale de Football Association confederations descend on Russia for the two-week tournament that will allow the hosts to assess the readiness of four of its World Cup venues and its ability to handle fans from overseas.

Russia's coach suggested it was an advantage to have such a pep talk.

The hosts now take on Portugal on Thursday (AEST) after Fernando Santos's men have played Mexico in their Group A opener.

Cristiano Ronaldo may be eyeing a move back to Manchester United this summer, but first he will attempt to guide Portugal to the 2017 Confederations Cup title.

Ronaldo will be able to focus his fans' minds on playing after widespread suggestions this week he wants to leave Real Madrid and Spain, where his tax affairs are under investigation.

In the only match played Saturday, Smolov took his chance to shine. Nevertheless, at the moment the national team of New Zealand successfully performs in the qualification for the upcoming World Cup, having passed the third stage of selection without defeats and taking 1st place in Group A among the countries of Australia and Oceania.

"A year ago, I said Portugal were going to Euro 2016 to win it".

Nani was already celebrating with his teammates when Argentine referee Nestor Pitana asked for the ball and indicated the goal was being reviewed.

A chest-high pass to forward Dmitry Poloz was deftly guided into the path of Denis Glushakov who chipped the ball over onrushing goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic.

With an average age of just 24 years and four months, and a combined total of 179 global appearances, Germany have the most youthful squad of the eight Confederation Cup teams.

  • Julie Sanders