JEDDAH: Spartak the lemur picked Saudi Arabia to defeat World cup hosts Russia ritual predicting results at Yekaterinburg Zoo.
However, Achilles the cat at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg picked the home team.
The cat was presented with two plates of cat food — one marked with a Russian flag and the other with a Saudi one. Achilles hesitated before going for the Russia plate.
The cat was then dressed in Russia’s uniform and posed for the cameras.
Hermitage veterinarian Anna Kondratyeva said she’s sure Achilles made the right call. She said he “loves his motherland and couldn’t vote otherwise.”
Achilles became famous by correctly predicting several matches during the Confederations Cup in Russia last summer.
Former Saudi coach Marcos Paqueta told Arab News Saudi Arabia’s group is difficult “to predict, but the first phase of a World Cup is when teams take a little more risk. It’s hard to say which team will qualify, but Saudi Arabia must be brave.”
Saudi Arabia will be underdogs in Group A at the World Cup. The Falcons are ranked 67th in the world, second-lowest at the tournament only behind the hosts Russia in 70th, but Jan Van Winckel, a former technical director of the Saudi Football Federation, does not consider those stats a problem.
“I think Saudi Arabia have a good chance of reaching the second round,” Van Winckel told Arab News.
(With input from AP)