Photo by SIA KAMBOU/AFP via Getty Images.
CAF Unveils POKOU, The Official Match Ball of 2023 African Cup of Nations
Honoring Ivorian legend Laurent Pokou's record-breaking legacy — a technological marvel set to revolutionize African football and inspire a nation.
In preparation for the forthcoming 2023 African Cup of Nations, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has revealed the official match ball for the tournament, as reported by BSNSports.com.ng.
The official match ball, christened "POKOU," pays homage to the Ivorian football legend Laurent Pokou, renowned for his remarkable contribution to African football. Pokou's extraordinary feat of scoring five goals in a historic 6-1 victory over Ethiopia at the 1970 edition of the Africa Cup of Nations still stands as a tournament record.
The unveiling of the POKOU ball marks a significant milestone in the lead-up to the tournament, scheduled to be held from January 13 to February 11, 2024, in the cities of Abidjan, Bouake, Korhogo, San Pedro, and Yamoussoukro. This specially designed ball proudly features the three primary colors of the Cote d'Ivoire flag: white, orange, and green, incorporating cutting-edge technology set to revolutionize the game not only on the African continent but also globally.
Erwan, the son of the late Laurent Pokou, had the distinct honor of presenting the official match ball to the audience during the tournament's final draw. Speaking with great emotion, he expressed his family's profound appreciation for the tribute to his father, stating, "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."
Laurent Pokou is widely celebrated as one of the most illustrious figures in the history of Ivorian football. Known as "L’homme d’Asmara" for his stellar performance at the 1970 Africa Cup of Nations in the Ethiopian capital, Pokou made his debut for the Ivorian national team in 1967 and went on to secure the top scorer title in the 1968 and 1970 Africa Cup of Nations tournaments. His tally of 14 goals in the Africa Cup of Nations remained a record until 2008 when it was surpassed by Cameroon's Samuel Eto'o. Pokou's football journey also included stints with Ivorian giants ASEC Mimosas and French clubs Stade Rennes and Nancy. He departed from this world in 2016 at the age of 69.
The POKOU ball serves as a fitting tribute to one of the greatest Ivorian footballers in history and stands as a symbol of the immense passion and enthusiasm that the people of Cote d’Ivoire hold for the beautiful game.
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