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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Dinamo Kiev to Make Debut In CIS Soccer Tournament

The fourth annual Commonwealth Cup soccer tournament kicks off Friday in three of Moscow's top indoor arenas.


The champion club sides of all 15 CIS countries will vie for the $42,000 first prize along with the Russian junior national team, an invitational entry to round out the field. The final goes Saturday, Feb. 3, at CSKA.


This year marks the first time the $120,000 tournament has attracted every country's top team, with Ukraine's Dinamo Kiev making its debut.


This will also be Kiev's first international appearance since UEFA, European soccer's governing body, banned the team from UEFA-sponsored cup competitions for three years for attempting to bribe the referee before a Champions' League match with Greece's Panathinaikos last September in Kiev.


Until last week it was not clear if Kiev would be eligible to participate. "We checked with UEFA's Disciplinary Committee and got their approval," said tournament organizer Nikita Simonyan on Wednesday.


For many local soccer fans, the tournament brings back memories of the old Soviet league, with Kiev's namesakes from Tbilisi and Minsk participating. On the other hand, the field for the first time excludes Moscow teams, as Spartak-Alania of Vladikavkaz makes its debut as Russian champion.


Dinamo Kiev, the top seed in Group C, opens against Estonia's Flora at CSKA arena. "We had a lengthy debate whether to come to Moscow," said Dinamo and national team coach Josef Sabo. "We wouldn't be here if we felt our team was not strong enough to compete for the top prize."


Other contenders to watch include Vladikavkaz, the No. 1 seed in Group B, Dinamo Tbilisi, the favorite in Group D and the Russian U-20 squad, which heads Group A.


For the first time, the organizers also signed Pepsi-Cola, using the 7-Up label, as the title sponsor.


(For schedule, see Scorecard.)