x

Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

Achilles the cat ready to make his World Cup 2018 predictions as he looks to be the new Paul the octopus

The feline, after a successful performance at the Confederations Cup, will be making the predictions for the tournament in Russia

Achilles the cat will be making the predictions at World Cup 2018 in Russia. Peter Kovalev / TASS via Getty Images
Achilles the cat will be making the predictions at World Cup 2018 in Russia. Peter Kovalev / TASS via Getty Images

Like many football 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 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 forecast 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.

____________

Read more

2018 World Cup predictions: Winners, losers, top-scorers and players to watch

In pictures: All 12 Russia 2018 World Cup stadiums

Lowdown: Where to watch 2018 Fifa World Cup matches in Abu Dhabi and kick-off times

Lowdown: Where to watch 2018 Fifa World Cup matches in Dubai and kick-off times

____________

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.