Federation Internationale de Football Association chief praises Russia's preparations for 2018 World Cup

Lawrence Kim
June 19, 2017

Stanislav Cherchesov says Vladimir Putin's rousing speech at the Confederations Cup opening ceremony gave Russian Federation extra motivation to defeat New Zealand.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino said on June 18 he was pleased to see how the Russian football community has united around the preparations for hosting the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Hosts Russia got their Confederations Cup campaign off to the flawless start, easing to victory against a toothless New Zealand in St Petersburg.

"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", Cherchesov told reporters.

Cheered on by a crowd of 50,251, the Russians made a strong start to the tournament, backing up their early dominance when Michael Boxall inadvertently turned in Denis Glushakov's dinked effort on goal.

Weak defending also allowed Russia's Fedor Smolov to slip past the All Whites and tap in a low cross by team-mate Alexander Samedov to confirm the win in the 69th minute. The entire world will be attentively watching what Russian Federation is doing.

"I don't know how it was to play on, but judging by the game it seemed the quality (of the pitch) was rather good". We will prepare together the best tournament, Infantino said.

Russian authorities insist that the Confederations Cup's ticketing system, which requires ticket holders to apply for a personalised fan ID, ensures that all fans are screened and troublemakers are kept away.

New Zealand's best chance felt to Tommy Smith, whose header was cleared off the line by Yury Zhirkov but by then the damage was already done, and the All Whites will need to dramatically improve when they face Mexico in their next game, on Wednesday.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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