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Fifa Confed Cup - All eyes on Russia

The 2017 Fifa Confederations Cup starting this weekend in Russia is a huge test for the hosts and their ability to host the World Cup this time next year. There are not many people pleased by the fact that football’s Showpiece event was awarded to them so make no mistake about it the whole world will be watching over the next two weeks.

The athletics doping scandals as discovered by Wada, Maria Sharapova’s positive test, the prevalence of Far Right racist groups/organisations who have clearly threatened non- whites, the country’s position on homosexuals are all in the mix of what will be tested during this Confederations Cup.

Living in Europe and as one who has traveled the world a lot I do not take incidents of racism lightly. I do not sniff at the possibility of it and I will sincerely hope that fans of Cameroon and other non-white football loving fans will be able to go to this tournament and the one next year and be free to move around. I was in Brazil for the last World Cup and I was able to move around in to the wee hours of the night and did not feel threatened by the colour of my skin.

On to the football side, I am not sure what to expect to be honest. No country has won this tournament and gone on to win the World Cup the next year. It is also starting at the back of a raft of World Cup qualifiers which were also on the back of a long hard European football season. For the first time in a long time, I am starting to believe there is too much football around. These same players will be back to pre-season training in July or early August – at the latest for their clubs. Crazy schedule.

Portugal, Chile and Germany are the strongest sides in the tournament and I do expect the winner to emerge from one of them. Germany do not seem to have slowed down markedly after winning the World Cup in Brazil three years ago; a testament to the availability of options for Joachim Low and his technical crew. Portugal have Ronaldo but winning the Euros would have imbued the rest of the squad with so much confidence coming to Russia.

Chile are my dark horses for this tournament. With Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal, Gary Medel and the experienced Jean Beausejour. They will be exciting to watch and quite hard to beat. They were very unlucky not to knockout Brazil in the round of 16 at the last World Cup and have the bulk of that side still here.

In Brazil, Cameroon were shambolic. They have somehow managed to rouse themselves from what was looking like a long descent into mediocrity to win the Afcon earlier this year. A new wave of committed footballers for this central African country seems to be coming again. Centre-Back Michael Ngadeu Ngadjui, Carl Toko Ekambi, Christian Bassogog, skipper Benjamin Moukandjo and striker Vincent Aboubacar have shown the grit, determination and resilience of past Indomitable Lions.

What many Africans will want from them is that they put up a solid defence of the continent and play as well as they can. Belgian coach Hugo Broos will know he has to get the team playing well especially as they have back to back matches with group leaders Nigeria in August for the World Cup proper. This tournament should be a platform for Cameroon to practice for those key qualifiers as they trail Nigeria already.

All in all, we are hoping for good football and above all no incidents of ANY kind off the field. Russia, the world is watching.

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