ST.PETERSBURG, June 17. /TASS, Yevgeny Ionov/. With only hours left before the opening match of the 2017 Confederations Cup between hosts Russia and team New Zealand, football fans of both countries clashed in a friendly game on the pitch of the Dinamo Stadium in St. Petersburg.
The score was opened by the guests in the opening minutes of the second half but the applause from the spectators’ stands, occupied by some 50 people, sounded on behalf of the both countries.
Having a taste for the sore, fans from New Zealand scored two more goals in the net of the Russian goalkeeper to seal the score at 3-0.
According to organizers, "such events are aimed at the development of friendly and sports relations between the participating nations of the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia as well as to promote a positive reputation of Russia as of a football and hospitable country and an attempt to actively integrate the fans of the Russian national team into the global family of football fans".
The friendly match consisted of two 20-minute halves with a 10-minute break and resulted in a decent play between both teams of Russian and New Zealand football fans under the blazing sun in St. Petersburg, where the temperatures currently soar at around 25 degrees Centigrade.
During the 10-minute break of the friendly match, players of the both teams laid flowers at the Dinamo stadium monument, dedicated to the football match held during the World War II in St. Petersburg. The city, which was called Leningrad at that time, hosted a football match in May 1942, while it was under a blockade of the Nazi Germany.
Asked about the expected score at the main match between New Zealand and Russia later in the day one of New Zealand’s football fans said that the score could be mirror-sided compared with the friendly match.
"I would love a win, but I think Russia for three points," Martin, who came to Russia on Friday from New Zealand, told TASS. "Russia would get the win I think. I would love New Zealand to sneak a win, but our form has not been great. We have lost in our three last games".
The official opening ceremony of the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup is scheduled to begin at 16:00 local time (1:00 p.m. GMT) at the recently built St. Petersburg Arena. The tournament’s first match will be played between hosts Russia and team New Zealand at 18:00 local time.
The national football team of New Zealand arrived at the arena on Friday noon to test the pitch of the stadium and then shared their opinion about the facility at a news conference expressing their satisfaction with the playing turf.
The over 68,000-seat capacity stadium designed to host the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2018 FIFA World Cup matches was laid down in the western portion of Krestovsky Island in St. Petersburg in 2007. The construction project was amended three times: in 2008, 2010 and 2013.
The new football arena in St. Petersburg will be hosting the opening and final matches of the Confederations Cup, also dubbed as the Tournament of Champions.
The FIFA Confederations Cup is viewed by experts as a rehearsal for the organizers, with only one year to go to the FIFA World Cup. This year’s tournament will be held between June 17 and July 2 at four stadiums in Russia and they are Spartak Stadium in Moscow, St. Petersburg Stadium, Fisht Stadium in Sochi and the Kazan Arena in Kazan.
Participants in 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 champs Portugal, OFC (Oceania Football Confederation) Nations Cup victors New Zealand and 2017 CAF Africa Cup of Nations Champion Cameroon.