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No fans allowed at World Cup game

North Korea

BANGKOK, Thailand (CNN) -- Political rivals Japan and North Korea are set to play in a World Cup football qualifier in an empty stadium in Bangkok.

The two teams will take to the field on Wednesday night (1030 GMT, 0630 ET) amid boosted security measures that will ensure no North Korean or Japanese fans are in sight.

In a rare move, the World Cup governing body FIFA moved the game from Pyongyang to Bangkok to punish North Korea after unruly crowd behavior during the country's game against Iran in Pyongyang in March.

But if that isn't strange enough, no spectators will be allowed to watch the game at the Supachalasi stadium.

A security force of 150 will be deployed to ensure the match is trouble free, sealing off roads leading to the stadium, Japanese newspaper The Daily Yomiuri's Web site reported.

Nearly 500 members of the Japanese press and thousands of supporters are expected to watch the match from outside and in nearby hotels.

Japan is expected to win against North Korea. If the Japanese players triumph, they gain automatic qualification to book one of four guaranteed berths from Asia at next year's finals in Germany, the Web site said.

Despite the odds, North Korea put on a brave face during a practise session on Monday, CNN's Aneesh Raman said.

"Of course they will win, they have to win," a serious North Korean official told Raman.

In contrast, Japan's coach -- Brazilian national Zico -- is more upbeat.

"This game gives us qualification. We feel reassured and we believe we can have a good match," he said.

Japan only needs to draw to qualify for the World Cup, something North Korea hasn't done since 1966.

CNN Correspondent Aneesh Raman

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