Excitement has gathered pace for the FIFA Confederations Cup as the Official Draw was made on Saturday, held at the Kazan Tennis Academy.
Assisted by two-time Olympic gold medallist Yelena Isinbaeva and five-time Russian Premier League winner Sergey Semak, the draw ceremony revealed who will face who and at which venues in the group phase of the Tournament of Champions, which takes place in Russia from 17 June-2 July 2017.
Group A: Russia, New Zealand, Portugal, Mexico
Group B: Champion of Africa, Chile, Australia, Germany
The opening match of the tournament will see hosts Russia face New Zealand, to be played on Saturday 17 June 2017 in Saint Petersburg at the Saint Petersburg Stadium.
Another match that football supporters around the globe will surely have circled on their calendars is Germany against Chile on Thursday 22 June 2017 in Kazan.
Meanwhile, the identity of Africa's representative in the tournament will be revealed at the final of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations, to be played on 5 February 2017 in Gabon.
The top two teams in each section advances to the semi-finals. Group matches will be held in Kazan, Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Sochi.
Kazan will host the first semi-final on Wednesday 28 June 2017 between the winner of Group A and the runners-up of Group B. Sochi will host the second semi-final the next day between the winner of Group B and runners-up of Group A.
The match for third place takes place in Moscow at the Spartak Stadium on 2 July between the losers of those matches. The final will be played in Saint Petersburg at the Saint Petersburg Stadium later that evening.
Festival of Russian culture
Not only did the draw map out the eight participating countries' routes to glory for Russia 2017, it was also a time to enjoy a display of Russian culture. Eighty-seven performers brought colour, music and dance to the stage in Kazan, a 1,000-year-old ancient city.
Television presenters Yana Churikova and Andrey Malakhov hosted the event, while Deputy Secretary General for Football Zvonimir Boban and FIFA's Chief Competitions & Events Officer Colin Smith conducted the draw itself. Anticipation ramped up when two-time FIFA Confederations Cup winner Julio Baptista presented the Winners Trophy after the musical performance. Victoria Lopyreva, an official ambassador for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ Host City Rostov-on-Don, then entered the ceremony with Krasava, the tournament's Official Match Ball.
The event set the perfect tone for the 2017 Tournament of Champions, a competition that will give each confederation's best teams the chance at more glory on the very same stage that will host the FIFA World Cup™, the greatest footballing show on Earth, one year later.
The first general ticket sales phase for all 16 matches will start on Thursday 1 December via FIFA.com/tickets and will run until 19 January 2017.
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