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Dubai camels stick necks out with World Cup predictions

The National tabbed Waslawi and Shaheen, racing camels in Dubai, to pick a few World Cup matches. In addition to a Croatia over Brazil shock opener, the pair made three other eyebrow-raising predictions.
Dubai racing camel Waslawi selects Croatia to beat Brazil in the World Cup opener at Emirati Matar Al Jabri's camel farm in Dubai. Sarah Dea / The National / June 8, 2014
Dubai racing camel Waslawi selects Croatia to beat Brazil in the World Cup opener at Emirati Matar Al Jabri's camel farm in Dubai. Sarah Dea / The National / June 8, 2014

DUBAI // The opening night party at the World Cup in Brazil could fall flat if a pair of camels in Dubai are to be believed.

The racing camels from Marmoum reckon Croatia’s unfancied national team are going to cause an upset in the first match by beating the host nation.

Whether Waslawi and Shaheen are correct remains to be seen but they face a tough task if they are going to reprise the feats of Paul the Octopus, the now deceased sea mollusc that was accurate in its predictions at the last World Cup.

Watch: Video of the camels picking World Cup group-match winners

But the Marmoum oracles’ instincts have at least come under the influence of a football-obsessed owner.

Matar Al Jabri is known as “The Yellow Man” among the country’s camel racing community, as he is always decked out in the colour of his favourite football team, Al Wasl.

For the past 20 years, he has worn yellow kanduras, while his four-wheel drive, Ray-Bans and sandals are the same colour. He even has an Al Wasl duvet cover on the bed in his room at his camel farm.

Ironically, given their sheds are painted yellow, as is the farmyard, the camels opted for the flags with no yellow on them when tasked with predicting the outcome of the two big opening games.

Waslawi plumped for Croatia against the famously yellow-shirted Brazil, while Shaheen predicted the Netherlands would beat the defending champions Spain.

Al Jabri said it is unlikely their love for Al Wasl – and all things yellow – is as acute as his.

“They are camels, not humans,” he said. “Camels don’t understand football. It’s an animal, not a person.”

He is also sceptical that the method of eating mushed dried dates from next to a set of national flags will lead to a talent in predicting football matches.

He said that knowing the future is not the right of man or beast, stressing that it “is for God only”.

The camels picked the results of four group stage games.

Al Jabri keeps a small and elite herd of camels. The best of them bear names related to football, although he sold one named Penalty earlier this season because, “he was not No 1, no chance”.

His prize camel is Musaihan, a six-year-old champion of the season finals at Dubai’s Marmoum track last month, who also goes by the name of Waslawi.

Shaheen is a five year old who has yet to prove a star of the track and carries the common name of his pedigree.

If he develops champion qualities, he will be renamed – perhaps even after World Cup legend and former Al Wasl manager Diego Maradona.

“The camels named after football should only be the best,” said Al Jabri. “Only the good ones.

“I know Maradona. If I wanted to name my camel after him, I would have to call and ask him first.”

Predictions in full

June 12 – Croatia to beat Brazil

June 13 – Netherlands to beat Spain

June 16 – Portugal to beat Germany

June 19 – England to draw with Uruguay

sports@thenational.ae

Updated: June 10, 2014 04:00 AM

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