" --IANS"
Saint Petersburg, June 13 - Achilles, the feline resident mouse-catcher at St. Petersburg's Hermitage museum, was on Wednesday promoted to Soccer-oracle-in-chief stardom after predicting Russia's victory versus Saudi Arabia on the opening World Cup match that kicks off Thursday at Moscow's Luzhniki stadium.

Facing a wall of photographers filling the 2018 World Cup Press centre in the old Imperial Tsarist capital, the blue-eyed, furry white kitty took his time before choosing one of the two cat-bowls placed in front of him, reported Efe.

On the right side stood the Russian national colours and to the left the deep green colours of the Saudi kingdom.

Achilles seemed more concerned with the dozens of video and photographic cameras around him than in expressing interest in the multinational cat-chow in front of him.

Finally, after fidgeting with the scaled-down replica of the Telstar 2018 World Cup official football, Achilles followed the hallowed steps of the late Paul the Octopus and chose the cat-bowl with the Russian tricolour flag.

His choice resulted in an eruption of laughter and applause which did not bother him as apart of being an intuitive feline, he is also deaf.

Afterward, the master of ceremonies presented Achilles with the red sweater of the Russian squad and handed him back to her owner Anna Kasatkina, a Hermitage Museum veterinary, amid a barrage of flashbulbs.

Achilles the cat departed without giving an official statement.

--IANS

tri/vd


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