A cat in Russia has been presented as the latest prognosticating creature tasked with predicting the outcome of the 2018 World Cup.
Achilles, the resident cat of the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, has been officially chosen as an oracle for the upcoming FIFA World Cup, which kicks off Thursday.
The white, blue eyes cat will attempt to predict the winners by choosing between two bowls of food, each adorned with the flag of the competing nation.
Last year, during the FIFA Confederations Cup, a precursor tournament for the World Cup, the feline proved to be quite skilled, correctly guessing three out of four major matches.
Achilles is said to be undergoing intense training in "intuition skills" at the Cats Republic, a cafe that's part of the Cats Museum.
Much like the major athletes involved in the Cup, including Cristiano Ronaldo, Leo Messi, Mohammed Salah and Paul Pogba, Achilles will undergo a strict diet and exercise regimen to get in shape for the tournament.
Achilles is deaf and also has an undisclosed birth defect that Hermitage Cats Press Secretary Maria Haltunen says is an indicator of good intuition.
"We considered — and it turned out to be right — that when you lack something, it is compensated by something else," Haltunen told APTN. "That's why he was a very good oracle."
Achilles will follow in the off-beat guessing games of Paul the octopus, which became a global sensation as an oracle for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Paul the Octopus was correct in predicting the outcome of four out of six matches, including Spain's victory in the World Cup final. Paul, who lived in a German aquarium, died four months later.
During the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Swiss guinea pig Madame Shiva and a British piranha named Pele were considered oracles, but apparently lacked the same foresight that made Paul a worldwide sensation.
The world will be watching as Achilles tries to prove his prediction skills.
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