24 November 2022

Bamboo or bust: Mixed success for giant pandas tasked with World Cup predictions

24 November 2022

Two giant pandas tasked with predicting Word Cup winners have achieved a 33% success rate in the opening games.

Thuraya and Suhail arrived in Qatar last month as a gift from China to celebrate the Gulf state hosting the tournament.

They have since appeared daily on Qatari-owned broadcaster beIN Sports to select the winner for each group game.

The selection process involves one of the pandas wandering about their enclosure at the Panda House Park, in Al Khor City, north of Doha, towards two flags stuck to a window.

They then sniff each flag before putting their paw or nose on one of them.

This is considered to be their prediction and their success rate was four out of 12 in the opening four days of the tournament.

The pandas correctly guessed Ecuador would beat Qatar in the opening game, England would overcome Iran, Japan’s shock win over Germany and France’s comfortable victory against Australia.

But the bamboo-loving pundits have also made some wild predictions, including believing Costa Rica would beat Spain. The game saw Spain triumph 7-0.

The pandas are hampered slightly as they are unable to predict a match will finish in a draw – a result which has occurred in four of the opening 12 games.

They fancied Wales to beat the USA but it finished 1-1.

The pandas’ Thursday tips included wins for Switzerland, Uruguay, Portugal and Brazil.

Qatari sports channel Alkass used Libro the falcon to predict the winner of the opening game, although the bird incorrectly opted for Qatar.

Libro was shown flying towards two flags suspended from drones.

Elsewhere, a river otter called Taiyo, who lives in Tokyo, predicted Japan’s victory over Germany by putting a mini football in the correct cup.

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