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Last Updated:  Sunday, 16 February, 2003, 11:29 GMT

Security alert for England
By Thrasy Petropoulos
BBC Sport in East London

If they made it past two roadblocks, 15 metal detectors, a bomb sweep and countless security staff, there were still the sniffer dogs to contend with.

England captain Nasser Hussain and a security guard
Security has followed England tightly to date

So tight was security at Buffalo Park, that there was a risk England's army of travelling fans would overheat before they were even exposed to the sweltering East London sun.

That the checks proceeded smoothly, however, was a credit to South Africa's efficient security system for the World Cup.

Terry Moss, the man in charge of overseeing safety at the ground, said that this was the highest form of security that his company operated.

But he stressed that England, for whom security has been a buzzword, were being treated in the same way as any other country.

"There are 182 security staff around the ground, all with the authority to do special searches," he said. "This is a normal day at the office for us.

"At the top end there are eight electromagnometers - metal detectors - and at the bottom end there are seven.

"Then there is the bomb sweep where all vehicles entering the ground will be searched by explosives dogs and checked out by guards from the bomb and explosives unit.

"The cars drive onto a ramp where they are searched thoroughly by explosives dogs and special bomb experts.

Only Pepsi and unbranded plastic water bottles are allowed in
Terry Moss, in charge of security at England v Holland

"This is the highest level of security that we operate - but no different to any other world cup match."

For the most part, the security checks passed without fuss - although two knives were confiscated at one gate.

"It was not a problem," said the guard involved, holding his hands apart as if expecting to catch a football. "They were only this big."

Any trouble was always unlikely in a crowd numbering no more than a few thousand, but a police helicopter that was circling the ground before the start of play would have been enough to put most people off any ideas of mischief.

And it is a different sort of ambush that the head of security was predominantly interested.

"Mostly we are looking for ambush marketing - in other words stopping people from bringing into the ground anything that contravenes our sponsors' agreement," he said.

"For instance, if someone tries to bring in a bottle of Coca-Cola. Only Pepsi and unbranded plastic water bottles are allowed in."

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