‘We hope to put on a show!’ - New Zealand official on 2017 Confederations Cup opener vs Russia

New Zealand is most associated with rugby, but Moscow embassy official Cecilia Warren says the country’s football team have big plans for the 2017 Confederations Cup, where they play host nation Russia in their opening match.

The all-conquering ‘All Blacks’ rugby union team are the most recognizable stars from the southern hemisphere island nation, being one of the most iconic sporting teams on the planet.

However, speaking at a press conference to present the Eight Flags Junior Cup, Warren told RT Sport she has high hopes for a festival of football at the tournament, and says her country’s opening game versus Russia at St. Petersburg Stadium on June 17 is “a huge honor.”

RT: Cecilia, tell us a little bit about the Eight Flags Junior Cup, a junior football tournament held on May 27 as a precursor to the 2017 Confederations Cup this summer in Russia.

CW: It’s a great tournament. Each of the eight countries participating in this year’s Confederations Cup will have a team of schoolchildren around the ages of 10 and 12 representing them under each of the eight flags. So it’s a small, one-day tournament where the schoolchildren get to in some ways have a tournament of their own and I guess it takes us one step further towards the FIFA Confederations Cup in June this year.  

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RT: New Zealand will be one of the eight teams in the Confederations Cup. How much do New Zealanders know about Russia?

CW: Awareness of Russia has grown a lot. A lot of New Zealanders travel to St. Petersburg and Moscow. Russian ballet, Russian theater, Russian history and Russian art is very well know. Surprisingly a lot of Russians know about New Zealand too. I’m amazed whenever I talk to people on the street how so many of them have heard of New Zealand and are aware of our landscape and our natural attractions. So I think it’s actually surprising these days how much the different cultures know of each other.

RT: New Zealand is famous for its all-conquering All Blacks rugby team. What can we expect from the All Whites football team?

CW: Football is actually the most popular sport in New Zealand in terms of actual participation, so it has very wide popularity between boys and girls, men and women, so it’s very widely played. I think the team is a good one, we’re playing Russia in the opening game and we certainly hope to put on a show.  

RT: Does it hold any extra significance that your opening game will be against the host nation Russia?

CW: I think playing in the opening game against Russia is a huge honor. I think the team will be very much looking forward to that. We certainly hope some of the Russian supporters in the stand will cheer on the New Zealand team as well. It will be a big game for us and a big tournament for the New Zealand football team.

RT: How will the New Zealand fans react if it is cold during the Confederations Cup?

CW: I think Russia is famous for its winters but I’m quite sure there will be a fine and sunny warm summer to greet fans when they come across.

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