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MOSCOW, February 10. /TASS/. Stanislav Cherchesov, the head coach of the Russian national football team, said on Friday he was enthusiastic ahead of the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup as his squad was undergoing "a natural process of renewal."
The football competition, also called as the ‘Tournament of Champions’ and viewed by sports experts as a rehearsal a year ahead of the FIFA World Cup, will be held between June 17 and July 2 at four stadiums in Russia: Moscow’s Otkritie-Arena, the St. Petersburg Arena, Sochi’s Fisht Arena and the Kazan-Arena.
"We've changed some things and the team is being rebuilt," Cherchesov said in an exclusive interview with FIFA.com. "In our last match, there were four or five players aged 21-23 in the squad. There's a natural process of renewal going on."
National teams around the globe are currently in the qualifying stage battling for a place in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, while Russia as the host nation has been already guaranteed the spot in the world’s main quadrennial football event. Therefore, the Russian national team is playing friendly football matches in the run-up to the 2018 World Cup.
"When you're putting a team together, it has to go through all the stages," Cherchesov was quoted as saying by FIFA.com. "It never happens that everything goes smoothly. We've lost games in the final moments and we've also had a poor defeat to Qatar. On the other hand, there have been last-minute victories as well. Everything is taking its course."
The 53-year-old head coach, who took over the team last summer following Russia’s disappointing performance at the 2016 UEFA Euro Cup in France, said he viewed the 2017 Confederations Cup as a very important tournament ahead of the much-anticipated quadrennial football championship, the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
"Of course it's important for the country," Cherchesov said. "The fans are dreaming of seeing all these teams in Russia."
Since 2005, the FIFA Confederations Cup has been held one year before the most important global football tournament, which is the World Cup. Both FIFA Cups are held in the same hosting nation and the ‘Tournament of Champions’ is usually viewed as a trial event to test the facilities and preparations of the hosting nation for holding the World Cup.
"It will be an acid test for the side," Cherchesov said. "We need to test ourselves at the level of real champions and compare our degree of readiness to theirs."
Participants of the 2017 Confederations Cup are hosts Russia, 2014 FIFA World Cup Champions Germany, 2015 Copa America Champions Chile, 2015 AFC Asian Cup Champion Australia, 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup winners Mexico, 2016 UEFA Euro Cup winners Portugal, OFC (Oceania Football Confederation) Nations Cup winners New Zealand and 2017 CAF Africa Cup of Nations Champion Cameroon.
The Draw for the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup was held on November 26 in the Russian city of Kazan. Following the draw hosts Russia was placed in Group A alongside with Portugal, Mexico and New Zealand. Group B has brought together Germany, Chile, Australia and Cameroon.
The opening game will be held in St. Petersburg on June 17 between Russia and New Zealand. Russia will face Portugal in Moscow on June 21 and on June 24 it will play Mexico in Kazan.