Northern Ireland fans are ready for battle — on the pitch.
Gangs of ‘professional’ Polish football hooligans were blamed for starting the violence at the Windsor Park clash between the teams in March when police had to respond to crowd trouble before and after the game while an assistant referee was struck by a coin.
There are fears of even worse violence before, during and after tonight’s rematch at the Slaski Stadium in Chorzow, but the supporters who have arrived in Poland are in good spirits.
So far, so good, though it won’t be job done for the authorities and police until the visiting Green and White Army are home safe and sound.
Sky Sports’ two-man production crew were issued with stab vests in the light of Polish hooligans warning they will cause trouble.
Those threats led to several Northern Ireland fans opting to remain at home, though up to 1,000 are expected to cheer on their heroes tonight.
East-Belfast fan Brian Chittick who is staying in Katowice, a few miles from the stadium in Chorzow, said he had received a warm welcome from the hosts.
“We have had a fantastic welcome whether it has been from the airport or to the bus to Auschwitz,” he said.
“Polish fans have been shaking our hands and security around has been well organised.
“The Amalgamation of Northern Ireland Supporters Clubs have liaised with the right people here and it seems that everyone is doing their utmost to ensure that the match goes off without a hitch.
“The one thing that hasn’t been focused on is that Poland are hosting the European Championships in 2012 and everyone is football mad here, wanting to talk about it.
“We have been here for a few days and met fans from Portglenone and spirits are high.”
Two fan zones have been set up for the visiting Green and White Army to accommodate fans arriving from Krakow and Berlin.
Gary McAllister, spokesperson for the Amalgamation of Official Northern Ireland Supporters Clubs, said he was unaware of any trouble to date.
“I have not heard of any security problems yet,” he said.
“The Polish authorities know who they are looking for with regard to the trouble makers. They have had a hooligan problem for years and the police will deal with them. They know what to expect.”