Purr-chance

Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - BAR­BARA COLE and REUTERS

SKABENGA, Dur­ban’s most fa­mous cat, knows a thing or two about soc­cer.

Af­ter all, he sported Manch­ester United colours when the in­ter­na­tional stars called at his home at the five-star Oys­ter Box Ho­tel in uMh­langa a few years ago. And he showed his own true colours by bask­ing in the lime­light and sit­ting on the ho­tel’s red car­pet en­trance as the big stars ar­rived.

Now, as global at­ten­tion turns to Rus­sia and the 2018 World Cup, which kicks off to­day, Skabenga the furry favourite has be­come a fe­line for­tune-teller.

While Rus­sia has Achilles, the cat who peo­ple say will pre­dict which teams will do well in the tour­na­ment, and Bri­tain has Mystic Mar­cus, a psy­chic pig, Dur­ban is able to call on the skills of Skabenga.

And they are not an­i­mal crack­ers ei­ther, say those who re­mem­ber the now-de­ceased Paul the fa­mous Ger­man-based oc­to­pus, which cor­rectly pre­dicted the win­ners of eight matches and the even­tual win­ner of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

With the first game be­tween Rus­sia and Saudi Ara­bia to­day, we quizzed Skabenga about his choice of a win­ner. Help­ing him to de­cide were two bowls of tasty treats, one next to the flag of Rus­sia, the other next to the flag of Saudi Ara­bia.

And which one did he favour? Time and again, it was Saudi Ara­bia.

Now, you will have to wait and see if he re­ally is the cat’s whiskers.

Per­haps pre­dictably, Achilles, a cat re­puted to have psy­chic pow­ers, chose his home coun­try to win.

Of­fered a choice of two bowls of food yes­ter­day, the white fe­line hes­i­tated be­fore choos­ing the one with the Rus­sian flag in front of it, dis­miss­ing Saudi Ara­bia’s chances of a win in Moscow – a re­lief to the host na­tion, con­sid­ered one of the weak­est sides in the tour­na­ment de­spite hav­ing the home ad­van­tage. Achilles, who lives in St Peters­burg’s Her­mitage mu­seum, is deaf.

PIC­TURE: MOTSHWARI MO­FO­KENG/ANA

Skabenga chooses the win­ning team of the open­ing match of the World Cup, at uMh­langa’s Oys­ter Box ho­tel to­day.

PIC­TURE: AP

Achilles the cat, one of the mice hunters at the State Her­mitage Mu­seum in St Peters­burg, Rus­sia, takes a break af­ter pre­dict­ing that Rus­sia will win to­day’s game.

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