The Fifa Confederations Cup, a dress rehearsal for next year’s World Cup, will commence on June 17 when Russia face New Zealand. The final will be played on July 2. With well-known attacking players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Alexis Sanchez, Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez, Nani, and Tim Cahill and world-class goalkeepers Claudio Bravo, Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, Guillermo Ochoa, Rui Patricio and Igor Akinfeev expected to play, the eight-team tournament looks to be a promising battle of exciting attacks and solid defences.
The eight teams participating in the tournament are Germany, Chile, Portugal, Mexico, Cameroon, Australia, Russia, and New Zealand. Four-time winners and holders Brazil could not qualify for this year’s edition as they were knocked out by Paraguay in the quarter finals of Copa America 2015. With no Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo would be the biggest star attraction of the tournament, which should not burden him as he is quite used to media attention. Despite the presence of experienced top quality players, Timo Werner (Germany), Andre Silva (Portugal), Aleksandr Golovin (Russia), Andre Onana (Cameroon) and many other youngsters would be in the limelight as they get their first real chance to prove themselves.
Seemingly, Portugal is taking this competition seriously as they have sent an improved squad than the one which won the Euro 2016. Though it can be said that Germany manager Low has opted for a squad that is loaded with reserves, with only eight players retained from the Euro 2016 squad. Chile, with stars like Sanchez, Vidal, Bravo and Medel in their squad, is the only team except Portugal that can garner the attention of non-competing nations. Russia’s new stadiums will attract more crowds than their home team, whose stars Dzagoev and Dzyuba are injured while Kokorin was overlooked by the manager. Both Mexico and Cameroon arrive in Russia in form and would be looking for one or two giant-killings while neighbours Australia and New Zealand are being considered outsiders.
|GROUP A||GROUP B|
The approach of the managers involved could not be more different regarding this tournament. While Portugal and Australia are putting all on the line to win, Joachim Low, Germany manager is using this tournament to test young players. “We want to win it, mate,” exclaimed Austraila head coach Ange Postecoglou who has set his aims high. Low on the other hand has given rest to majority of his senior players, “If there was no Confed Cup in 2021, I wouldn’t be unhappy. I don’t think those involved would be unhappy either.” He said.
The 2017 edition maybe the last of the tournament to be played. Since Fifa started organising the Confederations Cup, it has not matched the popularity levels of World Cup in non-competing nations. There have been calls to remove the tournament (who can possibly forget the tear gas incident in Brazil) as it adds extra burden for the host nation. Fifa is planning new things including a six nation-four game play-off round in 2025 as a rehearsal for next year’s world cup rather than the Confederations Cup. Even the 2021 tournament is in danger due to the inexplicable and unbearable heat in Qatar in the month of June. Though, Fifa is commercially bound to organise the tournament and may give it to any other Asian country. China, is leading the race with Japan, South Korea and Australia also hoping to host the tournament. Despite the concerns over racism and hooliganism and clouds hanging over its future editions, let’s enjoy what might be the last traditional Confederations Cup while we can.