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Rizal can only seat 13,000

MANILA, Philippines - Organizers of the Azkals’ home game against Sri Lanka on July 3 will limit the spectators to around 13,000 to avoid overcrowding the 70-year-old Rizal Memorial Football Stadium for the highly anticipated Fifa World Cup Asian Qualifiers match.

Cathy Rivilla, general coordinator for the home match, said after installing individual seats at the grandstand and painting dividing lines in the bleachers in accordance with Fifa’s seat measurements, the Rizal venue can only host a capacity of 12,873 spectators.

The lower grandstand and VIP areas (blue section) will accommodate 1,872; the upper grandstand (yellow section) will seat 2,870; and the bleachers will have 8,131.

“We’re making sure we’re within the regulations of Fifa, as there’s certain required widths on the seats. We don’t want to have an over-capacity, like what happened in Panaad; It would be a security nightmare,” Rivilla said, referring to the Azkals’ last home match in Bacolod where the venue was cramped like sardines with some 18,000 people.

Minus the individual seats in the grandstand and demarcation lines in the bleacher section in the old days, the Rizal Memorial can pack as many as 20,000 cramped fans.

“With 12,000 to 13,000 seats (now), not every one can come in,” Rivilla said.

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The organizers will also enforce strict security measures, prohibiting items like cigarettes and lighters, laser pens and pointers, balloons, candles, fireworks and pyrotechnics, alcohol, illegal drugs, large chains, bracelets, wallet chains and metal buckles, glass bottles, PET bottles, cans and large plastic containers.

Umbrellas would likely be disallowed, so those at the bleachers section would be exposed if its pours.

“We encourage people to bring raincoats and hats. We discourage bringing of umbrellas because it would block the viewing and also for safety purposes,” Rivilla said.

Renovations and preparations of the hosting at Rizal are in full swing while the Azkals are stepping up on their training in Duren, Germany.

On Monday, the Azkals will have their acid test against Ingolstadt FC, a second division team in Bundesliga.

“Ingolstadt will be the toughest match, (they’re) best team on the tour, (parading a) full professional (lineup), coach Michael Weiss told The STAR in an email from Germany.

The Azkals previously hurdled their first two test matches, 4-1, against Achen-Duren Selection and Bonner SC Under-19 squad.

“(Those are) very good test matches, (the two teams) challenged the team despite the clear results,” Weiss said.

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