January 9, 2015 – 11:25PM
Not a high risk: security will be as normal for the Uzbekistan/North Korea clash on Saturday night at ANZ Stadium.Photo: Dallas Kilponen
Security for the first Asian Cup game held in Sydney will be vigilant, but no excess measures will be in place for those heading to ANZ Stadium on Saturday night for the match between Uzbekistan and North Korea.
A normal police presence for a football match at the stadium will be present but no increased checks, searches or screening measures will be in place around the precinct for Sydney’s first hosting match. Forecasts based on ticket sales indicate a crowd of between 12,000 and 15,000 is expected to walk through the gates for a match between two nations with no significant diaspora in Australia.
The predicted attendance and nature of the Group B clash means security officials and NSW Police do not deem the game as a “high risk”.
“We continue to liaise with NSW police and our security plans are in line with NSW Police and the organisers of the event,” a stadium spokesman said.
The predicted crowd figure allays fears of an embarrassingly small attendance for arguably the lowest profile match of the tournament. While North Korea and Uzbekistan are hardly minnows in Asia, neither were considered a “drawcard” team for the tournament and have few players known by the public. The draw for the Asian Cup was made after the selection of venues and dates by the local organising committee.
The two nations form what is regarded by some as the tournament’s “group of death” alongside Saudi Arabia and China. With no powerhouse or whipping boys in the group, it is contested by four teams of a similar calibre. Uzbekistan and North Korea share recent history, being pitted together in the qualification process for the 2014 World Cup. In both games, Uzbekistan registered narrow 1-0 victories over “Chollima”.
“I think every team is dangerous if you think you’re going to win the match before the game; it’s not right and you can lose. Every team is dangerous for us but hopefully we will win all the games in the group,” defender Vitaliy Denisov said.
Uzbekistan fancy their chances of progressing further than the group and set a target of reaching the final of the tournament. “I hope we go to the final, we have a really good team now, experience and youth,” centre-back Anzur Ismailov said.