A MASSIVE 230 police personnel and an unspecified number of soldiers, fire officers and national security personnel will be deployed at the Baba Yara Stadium on Sunday to help ensure safety of fans and property in the Glo Premier League top liner between Asante Kotoko and Hearts of Oak.
This was arrived at following the first stakeholders meeting on the match last Tuesday. Another one will be held today to fine-tune measures taken at the first meeting.
Chief Supt. Amo Ayisi, Operations Officer of the Ashanti Regional Police Command, told the Daily Graphic that lessons were drawn from previous encounters between the two sides where nasty incidents were recorded leading to some deaths.
On May 9, 2001, Africa’s worst football disaster occurred in a league match between the arch rivals at the Accra Stadium when 127 football fans were killed in a stampede after Hearts of Oak beat Kotoko 2-1.
And in 2009 another horrible incident occurred in Kumasi when four fans died from suffocation and 417 individuals were injured as Hearts beat Kotoko 2-1.
Matches between the two giants come with their own characteristics, most often tension rising to the highest level.
Already, indications point to a huge patronage for Sunday’s match and the decision to deploy a large number of security personnel is seen by some fans as the right step.
Chief Supt Ayisi said everything was being done to protect lives and property on Sunday.
Consequently, fans were advised to comport themselves so that the security personnel would have little work to do.
He said policemen would be placed at each of the 40 gates of the stadium which would all be opened to ensure free flow of fans.
Besides, plain-clothed men will be positioned in the stands to help arrest troublemakers, while others will also be in the inner perimeter.
The Operations Officer said they also drew lessons from the last Africa Nations Cup qualifier between Ghana and Sudan at the Stadium when a capacity crowd turned out.
“We were able to control matters and we believe it would serve as a lesson for us on Sunday,” he said
Kick-off is at 3.30 p.m.