Moscow, June 16 (IANS) Russian President Vladimir Putin will on Saturday attend the first match of the FIFA Confederations Cup football tournament, in which Russia will meet New Zealand, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday.
Asked about the Kremlin’s opinion of progress in preparations for the 2018 World Football Cup, Peskov said that large-scale work was proceeding as scheduled.
“The president looks into this matter quite often. He gets reports from those in charge. For now all is proceeding well,” Tass news agency quoted Peskov as saying.
“As far as I know, thorough preparations have been made. Russia has vast experience of hosting such events. There is every reason to expect all will be a success, at an appropriately high level.”
FIFA President Gianni Infantino is also coming to St. Petersburg on Saturday for the opening of the tournament.
The FIFA president will attend the official opening ceremony, which is scheduled to begin at 16:00 local time (1 p.m. GMT) at the recently built St. Petersburg Arena and will stay to watch the tournament’s first match, which will be played between hosts Russia and New Zealand at 6 p.m. local time.
In Group A Russia will play OFC (Oceania Football Confederation) Nations Cup victors New Zealand in St. Petersburg on June 17, Euro 2016 champions Portugal in Moscow on June 21 and 2015 Concacaf Gold Cup winners Mexico in Kazan on June 24.
World Cup 2014 holders Germany, Copa America champions Chile, AFC Asia Cup winners Australia and 2017 CAF Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) champions Cameroon are in Group B.
Two pairs of the best teams identified in the group tournaments will then play in the semi-finals. The Confederations Cup’s final is due in St. Petersburg on July 2.