Ahead of the 2018 World Cup, Russia is hosting another FIFA event. The European nation was awarded the hosting rights for 10th edition of FIFA Confederations Cup in December 2010, soon after they had also bagged the honor of staging next year’s FIFA World Cup. The quadrennial 8-team event of men’s football traditionally features confederations champions, besides the host nation and the most recent World Cup champions. Since World Cup will follow a year later, the Confederations Cup is sure to enhance the already euphoric football atmosphere across the Russian nation. Matches of Confederations Cup will be played during June 17-July 02, 2017 in four different stadiums of Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Kazan and Sochi. While 7 out of 8 teams are already decided, the 8th participant will emerge in less than a week’s time, when the African championship concludes and one team out of Egypt, Burkina Faso, Cameroon and Ghana will join the competition. The CAF semifinals are scheduled for February 1 & 2 while the final will be played on February 5, 2017.
FIFA has divided world football in six confederations of Africa, Asia, Europe, North, Central America and Caribbean, Oceania and South America and the Confederations Cup is an event that includes 6 Confederations Champion, the host nation and previous World Cup winners. Russia and 2014 Brazil World Cup champions Germany, have, therefore, automatically qualified for Confederations Cup. The other teams are; Australia, Chile, Mexico, Portugal and New Zealand. That still leaves out the champion from the Confederations of African Football or CAF. The 2017 Africa Cup of Nations is in progress and four teams have reached the semifinals. On February 1, the first semifinal between Burkina Faso and Egypt will decide the first finalist while the second will come from the match between Cameroon and Ghana at Gambia on February 2. The Confederations Cup line-up will be complete, when the CAF championship game is played out in Senegal on February 5.
After Russia and Germany, Australia were the third to qualify for the Confederations Cup after they defeated South Korea in 2015 AFC Asian Cup Final. This was the first time that Australia became AFC champion after they moved out of Oceania Football Confederation in 2006. Chile qualified by virtue of their victory over Papua New Guinea in the 2015 Copa America final. Mexico and USA were the winners of 2015 and 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup respectively and they needed to fight against each other to decide the team from CONCACAF nations. Finally, Mexico edged out USA to 22enter the Confederations Cup. New Zealand’s victory over Papua New Guinea in the 2016 OFC Nations Cup Final qualified them while Portugal came in as winners of UEFA Euro 2016. With Russia, Germany and Portugal all qualifying, this will be the first time time in FIFA Confederations Cup history that three national teams from UEFA will participate in the tournament. The most unfortunate nation was 2013 champion and 4-time Confederations Cup winners Brazil. The Russian event is the first time since 1995 that Brazil will miss the tournament. They missed their chance with a penalty shoot-out quarterfinal loss against Paraguay in the 2015 Copa America.
The tournament is based on a usual format of group stage followed by the knockout stage. Divided in two Groups of four teams each, the participants will play three games, after which Group winners and runners-up go to the knockout stage. Semifinals will be single-elimination rounds that will decide the two finalists. The tournament also features a match for third place. The Confederations Cup begins with the first match between hosts Russia and New Zealand at the Krestovsky stadium Saint Petersburg on June 17, 2017.
Meanwhile, World Cup fever in Russia is on the rise. Last week, the Russian city of Yekaterinburg unveiled a three-meter tall football-shaped clock to mark 500 days left until 2018 FIFA World Cup. The clock model has been set up in city’s main square. It is equipped with a calendar and a timer, in addition to a Wi-Fi router, camera, and microphone to enable fans to record their match predictions and send them to the official World Cup portal.
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