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Russian fan leader banned from opening Confederations Cup match

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World champions Germany and the champions from FIFA's six confederations are competing in the two-week tournament that will allow Russian Federation to test its soccer infrastructure in four of the 11 cities hosting World Cup matches.

Three of the previous nine Confederations Cups have been won by the host nation and Russian Federation, playing in the tournament for the first time, impressed with victory in Saint Petersburg.

Hosts Russia kick off the Confederations Cup against New Zealand in St Petersburg today, targeting victory in their opening match to set the tone for a successful tournament.

Russia's Fedor Smolov celebrates after scoring his side's second goal during the Confederations Cup, Group A soccer match between Russia and New Zealand, at the St. Petersburg Stadium, Russia, Saturday, June 17, 2017.

"The infrastructure, hotels, transportation systems - everything's ready".

Taking place a year ahead of the 2018 World Cup, the 2017 Confederations Cup will serve as a dress rehearsal for host national Russian Federation, but also several other sides who could be serious candidates for the coveted trophy next summer.

"I believe we will have the same team as we did in this game against Portugal". And we've took the full-scale measures to assure the event's security.

New Zealand is not a frequent guest of the Confederations Cup. "And it's a great football occasion", added Mutko, who is also president of the Russian Football Union.

"The Confederations Cup is the main operational milestone on the way to the next year's World Cup".

Heavyweights Germany will clash with Asian Cup champions Australia, Africa Cup of Nations winners Cameroon and Copa America holders Chile in Group B.

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo inspects the grass during a training session at the Arena in Kazan, Russia, on Saturday, June 17, 2017.

Some 191 fans have been put on a blacklist barring them from games and legislation introduced to toughen up punishments and deport foreign hooligans.

New Zealand are in the Confederations Cup thanks to winning the 2016 OFC Nations Cup tournament, and they are making their fourth Confederations Cup appearance. Russia's interior ministry has blacklisted 292 fans, including 54 spectators who last month invaded the pitch at the Russia Cup final in Sochi, effectively banning them from attending official sporting events.