‘Psy­chic’ cat says Rus­sia will win first World Cup game

New Straits Times - - WORLD -

MOSCOW: Rus­sia’s foot­ball team has failed to chalk up a sin­gle win in eight months, but things could be about to im­prove, ac­cord­ing to a sup­pos­edly clair­voy­ant cat who pre­dicted a win for the side in the first World Cup match.

Achilles, a deaf white cat who is the of­fi­cial an­i­mal sooth­sayer for the tour­na­ment, on Wed­nes­day chose a bowl of food bear­ing the host’s flag rather than that of Saudi Ara­bia, who Rus­sia faced yes­ter­day even­ing.

The blue-eyed fe­line is usu­ally part of a team of dozens of cats that guard St Peters­burg’s Her­mitage mu­seum from ro­dents, but has taken on a new role for the foot­ball event.

“Achilles is al­ready used to the pub­lic and shouldn’t be too stressed,” said vet Anna Kon­dratyeva, who man­ages the an­i­mals.

The cat fol­lows in the ten­ta­cle-prints of Paul the Oc­to­pus who be­came a star in 2010 af­ter pre­dict­ing win­ners for that year’s World Cup by choos­ing one out of two boxes con­tain­ing food.

Oth­ers have made a play to be the next Paul, in­clud­ing Swiss guinea pig Madame Shiva in 2014 and Bri­tish Pi­ranha Pele, but none quite had the mol­lusc’s fore­sight.

Ear­lier in the day, the head of the Rus­sian Ortho­dox Church Pa­tri­arch Kir­ill said he would pray for the na­tional team to give a wor­thy per­for­mance.

The hosts, who took on Saudi Ara­bia in yes­ter­day’s cur­tain­raiser, needed all the moral sup­port they could get as they went into the event with­out a win in seven games.

EPA PIC

Achilles the cat has pre­dicted that Rus­sia will win the open­ing game of the World Cup with Saudi Ara­bia, in St Peters­burg on Wed­nes­day.

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