As the ICC Champions Trophy is set for its culmination on the June 18, football’s Champions Trophy – FIFA Confederations Cup – is about to begin in Russia from June 17.Come Saturday, some of the biggest names from the footballing fraternity are taking the ground for their respective countries.What is Confederations Cup?FIFA Confederations Cup is a country-based tournament where eight countries vie for the title. Apart from the hosts, the winners of FIFA World Cup, UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) Euro Cup, Copa America, AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Asian Cup, CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football) Cup, OFC (Oceania Football Confederation) Nations Cup and CAF (Confederation of African Football) Africa Cup of Nations take part in the competition.Which teams are competing this year?The teams fighting for the title this year are Russia, Germany, Portugal, Chile, Australia, Mexico, New Zealand and Cameroon.RUSSIA:This would be the first Confederations Cup for Russia and they qualified for the tournament seven years ago when they were chosen as the hosts for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.Since the disintegration of USSR, Russia’s best performance in a major tournament was their semi-final appearance at 2008 UEFA Euro Cup.Two of their players to look out for will be their goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev and one of their forwards, Fyodor Smolov, who has been the top scorer of the Russian Premier League for two seasons in a row.Fact check: The hosts of the tournament have won on three occasions – Mexico in 1999, France in 2003 and Brazil in 2013. advertisementGERMANY:Germany qualified for the Confederations Cup in 2014 when they won the FIFA World Cup in Brazil after defeating Argentina 1-0 in extra time, courtesy Mario Gotze’s decider.Germany last featured in the tournament in 2005 under coach Joachim Low, who will lead them this time as well.Germany displayed absolute team game to win the 2014 World Cup and they will be counting on the same in Russia as well with some big games missing from the squad.Some of the players who can make a difference would be Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, Manchester City starlet Leroy Sane, Bayern Munich man Joshua Kimmich and Paris-Saint Germain midfielder Julian Draxler. PORTUGAL:Portugal qualified for the Confederations in a dramatic fashion last year when they lifted their first major trophy at the 2016 UEFA Euro Cup after Eder scored a stunner in extra time.With captain Cristiano Ronaldo leading Portugal to another major tournament, they will be out to prove a point.The last time Portugal had a chance to qualify for the Confederations when they reached the final of the 2004 Euro Cup only to surprisingly go down to Greece.Reuters PhotoApart from talisman Ronaldo, Pepe will be leading the Portuguese defence like he did in the Euro final. Also Bernardo Silva has grown in stature ever since the Euro victory, a key figure in AS Monaco’s Ligue 1 triumph this season.Fact check: The Euro Cup winners have lifted the Confederations Cup three times – Denmark in 1995 and France twice in 2001 and 2003.CHILE:Chile reached the Confederations Cup after their historic win against Argentina on penalties in 2015 Copa America.Chile’s best FIFA World Cup performance came as hosts in 1962, when they finished third.Chile will be competing in Russia with much of the same squad as the Copa America and will be looking to add to their two Copa America titles that they won after a wait of 99 years.Reuters PhotoAlexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal, Claudio Bravo and Eduardo Vargas will be some of the key figures for La Roja.AUSTRALIA:Australia have made it to Russia after winning the 2015 AFC Asian Cup, post their shift from Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) to the Asian Football Confederation.Australia are the only side to feature in the tournament as a member of different confederations.Australia have once reached the final of the Confederations Cup way back in 1997, where they were thrashed 6-0 by Brazil.Two major campaigners for Australia will be their goalkeeper Maty Ryan, who was named the goalkeeper of the tournament at the 2015 AFC Asian Cup after he went four hours without conceding a goal in the knockout stages, and Tim Cahill, who’s stunning goal in the 2014 FIFA World Cup against Netherlands was nominated for that year’s FIFA Puskas Award. MEXICO:Mexico beat USA 3-2 in the CONCACAF Cup in extra time to make it to Russia. Mexico has won the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2015 while USA had won the same in 2013, therefore, the CONCACAF Cup was held in 2015 to decide the contender for Confederations Cup from the continent.advertisementIn this year’s edition, Mexico are the only team appearing who have won the Confederations before.Also, this will be Mexico’s seventh appearance in the competition making them the joint-most experienced side along with Brazil.Reuters PhotoEx-Real Madrid and Manchester United player Javier Hernandez will be a key figure for the nation along with Guillermo Ochoa, who had a fantastic World Cup debut in 2014.NEW ZEALAND:New Zealand defeated Papua New Guinea in the OFC Nations Cup to qualify for the Confederations Cup.New Zealand made their first appearance in the competition in 2009 in South Africa where they lost all eight games before managing a goalless draw against Iraq.When Anthony Hudson leads the team in Russia as coach, he will become the youngest coach in the tournament’s history at the age of 36.Chris Wood will be their go-to man in the competition after he finished as the top scorer in England’s second-tier in 2016-17 season with Leeds United.CAMEROON:Cameroon came from behind to defeat Egypt in the Africa Cup of Nations 2017 and qualified for the Confederations Cup.No African nation has won the tournament with Cameroon registered the best performance from the continent after they reached the final in 2003. After that remarkable appearance, this is the first time they have made it to the competition.In 2003, one of their players Marc-Vivien Foe tragically lost his life after collapsing during their semi-final against Colombia.Cameroon will hope for their players to show the intensity they did in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations and their prime players could be their goalkeeper Fabrice Ondoa, who conceded only three goals during their quest for continental glory, and Christian Bossagog, who was rewarded as the player of the tournament at the Africa Cup of Nations are various electric performances.
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