Soc­ceroos land in Dhaka amid heavy se­cu­rity

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

DHAKA: Aus­tralia’s na­tional foot­ball team ar­rived in Dhaka yes­ter­day to play a World Cup qual­i­fy­ing match amid “un­prece­dented” se­cu­rity as fears of mil­i­tant at­tacks es­ca­late in the Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity coun­try.

“The team has landed and was taken to a ho­tel with heavy se­cu­rity,” Abu Nay­eem So­hag, gen­eral sec­re­tary of the Bangladesh Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion, told AFP. The match, sched­uled for Tues­day, was thrown into doubt af­ter Aus­tralia’s na­tional cricket team can­celled their tour of Bangladesh over se­cu­rity con­cerns.

Aus­tralian foot­ball of­fi­cials also flagged their con­cerns to world foot­ball gov­ern­ing body FIFA and the Asian Foot­ball Con­fed­er­a­tion. Two Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion Aus­tralia se­cu­rity of­fi­cials, in Dhaka since Novem­ber 9, and a FIFA se­cu­rity of­fi­cial met Bangladesh’s home af­fairs min­is­ter and law en­force­ment agen­cies be­fore giv­ing the match the go-ahead.

The chief of the po­lice sta­tion at Dhaka air­port Ka­mal Ud­din told AFP that more than 100 armed po­lice­men and of­fi­cers were de­ployed at the air­port to en­sure se­cu­rity for the visi­tors and “four lay­ers of pro­tec­tion” were pro­vided when the team de­parted the air­port for their ho­tel.

“The Aus­tralian team got a level of se­cu­rity that is spe­cially re­served for a vis­it­ing head of state or the Bangladesh Prime Min­is­ter,” Ud­din said. “They are pleased with the se­cu­rity ar­range­ments.” Dhaka’s deputy po­lice chief on Sun­day an­nounced “un­prece­dented” se­cu­rity mea­sures for the Soc­ceroos match, say­ing mar­kets would be sealed off and snif­fer dogs and bomb dis­posal units de­ployed at Banga­bandhu Na­tional Sta­dium where the match will be held.

The match is cru­cial for Aus­tralia who are sec­ond in their group-one point be­hind lead­ers Jor­dan-and can­not af­ford to for­feit three points by fail­ing to ful­fil a fix­ture.

Aus­tralia thrashed Bangladesh 5-0 in Septem­ber’s home qual­i­fier in Perth. Bangladesh are at the bot­tom of their group with just one point from six matches.

Aus­tralia’s crick­eters had been due to play a two-Test se­ries in Bangladesh in Oc­to­ber but the tour was scrapped af­ter a se­cu­rity alert was is­sued by of­fi­cials. The alert was fol­lowed by the killings of two for­eign­ers and deadly blasts at a Shi­ite shrine-at­tacks claimed by the Is­lamic State group (IS).

Al­though lo­cal of­fi­cials have stead­fastly re­jected the pres­ence of for­eign ji­hadist groups in­clud­ing IS, the US State Depart­ment has is­sued a travel alert, warn­ing that for­eign­ers could be tar­geted in at­tacks. — AFP

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