Origin of "Pokou", the iconic name behind the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations official ball


FOOTBALL Origin of "Pokou", the iconic name behind the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations official ball

Festus Chuma 15:06 - 24.10.2023

AFCON 2023's official ball, unveiled by CAF and Puma, pays tribute to a legendary African footballer known for record-breaking performances.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) and Puma proudly unveiled the official match ball christened "Pokou" for the upcoming 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) slated for Cote d’Ivoire.

This soccer ball pays tribute to the legendary Ivorian forward, Laurent Pokou, an icon of African football whose unforgettable performance in the 1970 Africa Cup of Nations included a remarkable five-goal display in the 6-1 victory over Ethiopia, a record that still stands to this day.

The collaboration between CAF and Puma, announced just before the AFCON Final Draw in Abidjan, signifies a long-term commitment to the sport's development on the continent.

The unveiling of the official ball, "Pokou" marks another significant milestone in the countdown to the tournament's official kick-off on January 13, 2024.

Erwan, the son of the late Laurent Pokou, took center stage during the Final Draw, presenting the iconic and beautifully designed match ball to the enthusiastic audience.

This official ball, named in honor of his father, prominently features the three main colors of the Cote d’Ivoire flag – white, orange, and green, while also incorporating the latest cutting-edge technology set to revolutionize the game not only in Africa but across the globe.

"This is an emotional moment for my family. It is a great honor bestowed on my late father, who dedicated his life to Ivorian football, to have the official match ball for a tournament taking place in no other place than Cote d’Ivoire named after him. 

"The family appreciates the efforts by CAF and the Local Organizing Committee (COCAN) to celebrate heroes and heroines, aiming to motivate and inspire future generations to follow in their exemplary footsteps." Erwan said.

The 2023 AFCON is set to captivate football enthusiasts from January 13 to February 11, 2024, with matches scheduled to be held in the vibrant cities of Abidjan, Bouake, Korhogo, San Pedro, and Yamoussoukro.

Laurent Pokou, affectionately known as "L’homme d’Asmara," holds an esteemed position as one of the greatest players in the annals of Ivorian football. 

His remarkable contribution to the sport in the West African nation is commemorated by the naming of one of the match venues for the tournament in San Pedro as the "Laurent Pokou Stadium."

Pokou's journey to football stardom commenced with his debut in a friendly match against Ghana in 1967, eventually culminating in his role as the top scorer in both the 1968 and 1970 Africa Cup of Nations tournaments.

His astounding 14 goals in the Africa Cup of Nations remained a longstanding record until 2008, when it was eclipsed by Cameroon's Samuel Eto’o.

Pokou's illustrious career extended beyond the borders of Cote d’Ivoire, as he also made a name for himself with French clubs Stade Rennes and Nancy.

Tragically, this legendary Ivorian, who towered over the field for ASEC Mimosas, passed away on November 13, 2016, at the age of 69. 

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