By Kwame Asare Boadu, Kumasi
FOOTBALL fans in Kumasi are calling for maximum security on Sunday when Asante Kotoko square up against archrivals Hearts of Oak in the top liner of the Glo Premier week at the Baba Yara Stadium.
A number of fans interviewed by Graphic Nsempa in Kumasi at the weekend said matches between the two glamorous sides demand tight security, judging from past experiences.
They appealed to the police to deploy more men at the stadium and also ensure that fans entering the stadium were thoroughly searched to prevent them from entering the stadium with offensive weapons.
Matches between the two sides have been characterised by tension, sometimes degenerating into violence.
In 2009, four football fans, all men, died during the league match between the two sides at the Baba Yara Stadium.
The stadium was overcrowded with fans and the four died of suffocation.
Personnel of the Ghana National Fire Service had to use a fire engine to spray water into sections of the stands to help bring down the heat to prevent more deaths.
On May 9, 2001, the worst football disaster in Africa occurred at the Accra Sports Stadium during a league match between Hearts and Kotoko.
As many as 127 lives were lost on the day after Hearts scored two late goals to defeat Kotoko 2-1 which led to disappointed Kotoko fans throwing plastic seats and bottles onto the pitch.
Police responded by firing tear gas into the crowd and the panic that ensued resulted in a stampede, leading to the deaths.
So, as the country’s two most powerful sides meet on Sunday, all attention will be on how security is maintained to ensure the safety of the lives of thousands of the people who will watch the match.