By George Sargent
LONDON (Reuters) - England, the soccer team with three lions on their shirts, have the fierce support of three lionesses at London Zoo who were doing their own training on Thursday as the tournament kicked off.
Encouraged to play with a soccer ball specially painted with the English flag, one of the animals, Heidi nudged it gently with her head, dribbled it, but refused to pass to her sisters Indi and Rubi, and instead lay down and gave it a chew.
England fans will be hoping for more dynamic play when their team take on Tunisia in Volgograd on Monday, the first three-lions match of the tournament that opens in Moscow on Thursday with hosts Russia versus Saudi Arabia.
"Were all big footy fans here at the zoo and it's just nice to sort of get the lions involved and have them roaring on the England team, hoping that they'll bring home the cup," trainee zookeeper Tom Lawrance told Reuters.
(Writing by Robin Pomeroy)