By ABIRHIRE THOMAS
The Confederation of African Fiodball (CAF) and PUMA have unveiled “POKOU” – the official football match for the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations – Cote D’Ivoire 2023.
POKOU is named after Ivorian legendary forward, Laurent Pokou, a doyen of African football, whose five goals in the 6-1 victory over Ethiopia at the 1970 edition of the Africa Cup of Nations remain a record during the final competition.
Following the long-term agreement between CAF and Puma announced on the eve of the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations Final Draw in Abidjan, the ball official unveiling is yet another milestone in the countdown to the official kick-off on 13 January 2024.
Erwan, a son of the late Pokou, presented the iconic and beautifully designed match ball to the audience during the final draw.
The official ball, POKOU, features the three main colours of the Cote D’Ivoire flag – white, orange and green, whilst incorporating the latest technology that will revolutionize the game on the continent and beyond.
“This is an emotional moment for my family. It is a great honour bestowed on my late father who gave 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 Organising Committee (COCAN) to celebrate heroes and heroines to motivate and inspire future generations to follow in their exemplary steps,” Erwan said.
The tournament will take place from 13 January to 11 February 2024 in the cities of Abidjan, Bouake, Korhogo, San Pedro and Yamoussoukro.
Nicknamed L’homme d’Asmara, Pokou is widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the history in Ivorian football. It is in recognition of his contribution to football in the West African country, that one of the match venues for the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations Cote d’Ivoire 2023 in San Pedro is christened Laurent Pokou Stadium.
He made his debut against Ghana in a friendly in 1967, going on to become top scorer in the 1968 and 1970 Africa Cup of Nations. His 14 goals in the Africa Cup of Nations was for a long time a tournament record till 2008, when Samuel Eto’o of Cameroon eclipsed that feat. A legend Ivorian of giants, ASEC Mimosas, Pokou also had stints with French sides, Stade Rennes and Nancy. He passed away on 13 November 2016 aged 69.