Spartak the lemur predicts Saudi Green Falcons to overcome Russians in World Cup opener

Achilles the cat picked the home team. (Reuters)
Updated 16 June 2018

Spartak the lemur predicts Saudi Green Falcons to overcome Russians in World Cup opener

  • Achilles the cat picked Russia to beat the Green Falcons

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)

Ronaldo bust swapped at Madeira airport

Updated 10 min 5 sec ago

Ronaldo bust swapped at Madeira airport

LISBON: The controversial bronze bust of Cristiano Ronaldo at the airport on Madeira which bears his name has been replaced, Portuguese media reported on Monday.
“This bust is much better than the other one, that’s what everyone thinks,” Hugo Aveiro, brother of the five-time Ballon d’or, winner, told the Diario de Noticias da Madeira newspaper.
“A Spanish sculptor offered this new bust ... so good that we decided to change it,” he added.
The original was swapped Friday at the request of the Real Madrid superstar’s entourage, according to local media.
The original, by local artist Emanuel Santos, was unveiled 16 months ago at a ceremony to rename the airport after one of Madeira’s most famous sons, CR7 having been born in the capital Funchal.
But it was widely mocked, not least for its grimacing smile.
“The CR7 museum asked us to replace the bust in tribute to the athlete and we felt we ought to change it,” airport director Duarte Ferreira explained.
The Ronaldo museum opened in 2013 and a year later it unveiled a 3.40 meters (10 feet) statue which also caused some mirth owing to its figure-hugging shorts.
While his home island concentrates on his likenesses the real Ronaldo is busy at the World Cup. He notched a hat trick to earn a point against Spain a few hours after the airport bust was exchanged.