Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to attend the opening match of the FIFA 2017 Confederations Cup in St. Petersburg on Saturday, which will see Russia host New Zealand.
“Yes, he will attend,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters when asked about Putin’s possible visit to the game at St. Petersburg Stadium on the city’s Krestovsky Island this Saturday, TASS reported.
“Russia has big experience in hosting big events, we have the reasons to believe that everything should will be successful and on a decent level,” added Peskov.
“The president monitors this topic, receives reports from those responsible, and for now everything [with the tournament arrangements] is going according to plan,” he concluded.
The New Zealand national team arrived in St. Petersburg on Wednesday, where they were spotted training at Petrovsky Stadium – the former home of Zenit St. Petersburg.
‘All Whites’ coach Anthony Hudson told RT Sport ahead of the tournament that he considers playing at the opening game of the tournament a big honor for his team.
“Opening the tournament is a massive honor and one that we are not taking lightly,” he said.
“When we were in Russia last year for the draw, we said at the time that we got the draw that we wanted and we are really looking forward to 17 June. We go into this tournament confident that we can make a statement.”
The Russian team made their move to the northern city on Thursday, which “met them with sunny weather” according to the team’s Twitter account.
Санкт-Петербург встречает солнечной погодой 👍☀️ pic.twitter.com/EsceWXUjUZ— Сборная России (@TeamRussia) June 15, 2017
In addition to the opening game, St. Petersburg will host two more matches during the group stage of the tournament: Cameroon versus Australia on June 22, and New Zealand versus Portugal on June 24.
The Confederations Cup will be held across four Russian cities – Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan, and Sochi – from June 17 to July 2. It will be the first time for the ‘Tournament of Champions’ has been hosted in Russia, and is seen as a precursor to next year’s World Cup, which will also be held in the country.