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Paw-fect call! Psychic cat Achilles gets prediction spot on in FIFA World Cup opener


Paw-fect call! Psychic cat Achilles gets prediction spot on in FIFA World Cup opener
Offered a choice of two bowls of food, the white feline hesitated before choosing one with the Russian flag, dismissing Saudi Arabia’s chances of a win. (Photo: AP)

St Petersburg: Like many soccer fans trying to predict the results of the World Cup, Achilles is busy studying the teams heading to Russia this month for the sport’s biggest global showdown. But he has one advantage: cat sense.

The furry white feline, who lives in St Petersburg’s Hermitage museum, is being touted as a cat psychic will predict the winners and losers of the tournament kicking off in Russia in two weeks.

Ahead of the opener between Russia and Saudi Arabia on Thursday, Achilles rightly predicted the hosts would emerge as the winners.

Russia launched the World Cup party in spectacular style when they thrashed a feeble Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the tournament’s opening match to give the host nation the lift they desperately needed after a nine-month winless run.

Substitute Denis Cheryshev scored two brilliant goals after Yury Gazinsky had headed the World Cup’s first after 12 minutes.

Artem Dzyuba was also on target a minute after coming on as a 70th-minute substitute and Aleksandr Golovin completed a memorable day by smashing in a free kick with the last action of the game.

Offered a choice of two bowls of food, the white feline hesitated before choosing one with the Russian flag, dismissing Saudi Arabia’s chances of a win in Moscow on Thursday – a relief to the host nation, considered one of the weakest sides in the tournament despite the home advantage.

Achilles, who lives in St Petersburg’s Hermitage museum, is deaf, something his minders say means he will not be easily distracted by onlookers while making his prediction. They did not say whether the sight of the national flags might sway his choice.

For his training, Achilles, dressed in a red soccer jersey, looks at a chart of the teams and game schedules, before, slightly reluctantly, moving onto an exercise wheel.

“Achilles is now in his place of work, he is preparing for the World Cup and going through the adaptation process,” veterinarian Anna Kondratieva said during a training session at a pet shop near the museum.

“People tend to feed him more than they should. When he came to us he looked like a football, not a cat, so we decided to put him on a strict diet.”

When Achilles is not in training, he can also be found posing for pictures in the museum yard, building a celebrity persona that is about to get a huge lift from one of the world’s most-watched sporting tournaments.

The furry white feline, who lives in St Petersburg’s Hermitage museum, is being touted as a cat psychic who will predict the winners and losers of the tournament kicking off in Russia in two weeks.

Achilles has some big shoes – or tentacles – to fill: predecessor Paul the octopus became an international celebrity when at the 2010 World Cup he correctly forecasts the outcome of Germany’s games and picked eventual winners Spain.

One of the many cats to have lived at the Hermitage, once the imperial Winter Palace, Achilles previously predicted outcomes during the 2017 Confederations Cup.

Achilles is deaf, meaning he will not be easily distracted by waiting journalists when he makes his predictions by choosing between two bowls of food, each bearing a team flag.

For his training, Achilles, dressed in a red soccer jersey, looks at a chart of the teams and game schedules, before, slightly reluctantly, moving onto an exercise wheel.

“Achilles is now in his place of work, he is preparing for the World Cup and going through the adaptation process,” veterinarian Anna Kondratieva said during a training session at a pet shop near the museum.

“People tend to feed him more than they should. When he came to us he looked like a football, not a cat, so we decided to put him on a strict diet.”

When Achilles is not in training, he can also be found posing for pictures in the museum yard, building a celebrity persona that is about to get a huge lift from one of the world’s most-watched sporting tournaments.

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