USSR nostalgia opens new football season

The 2009 football year has kicked off in Moscow with the 17th CIS and Baltic States Champions Cup. Senior officials from Fifa and Uefa, soccer’s main governing bodies, were in town to enjoy the proceedings.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, 15 new football federations joined the global soccer community.

Each year, the champions of the former USSR states meet at the beginning of the season to find out which is the best team in the Commonwealth of Independent States and Baltic countries.

Fourteen teams from the former Soviet republics came to the Russian capital in 2009. Georgia was the exception.

The Finish champions, FC Inter Turku, made their debut in the competition this year.

The tournament is designed to show new talent. The reserve squads on show in the Russian capital is a great opportunity not only for young footballers to show their worth ahead of the new season. It's also a great chance for coaches and scouts to evaluate the players’ skills.

The competition is traditionally held at Moscow's indoor multifunctional Olympic arena that is used to host large scale international events.

Despite the absence of teams from Moscow, good crowds have turned up, perhaps lured by nostalgia for the former USSR.

The opening game of the tournament was between the Russian champions Rubin Kazan, and the Uzbek titleholders Pakhtakor.

The Uzbek team have made it to the finals for two years in a row. And they made a statement early in this match as well by opening the score in the 12th minute.

Rubin equalised half way through the second half and the game ended in a draw.

The CIS and Baltic states champions cup consists of 16 teams split into four groups.

Semifinals will follow the qualification stage and the tournament will end on January 26.