In a poignant tribute to Ivorian football legend Laurent Pokou, CAF (Confederation of African Football) and PUMA have unveiled “POKOU,” the official match ball for the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations Cote d’Ivoire 2023, MySportDab reports.
This announcement stands as a remarkable testament to the legacy of a football icon whose feats in the sport continue to inspire.
Laurent Pokou, an Ivorian forward, etched his name in African football history with an astounding achievement – his five-goal spectacle in the 1970 Africa Cup of Nations, during the Final competition against Ethiopia, remains a record to this day.
This unveiling follows the long-term partnership between CAF and PUMA, which was announced on the eve of the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations Final Draw in Abidjan.
The presentation of the official ball, POKOU, serves as another significant milestone as football enthusiasts eagerly await the tournament’s official kick-off on January 13, 2024.
During the Final Draw, Erwan Pokou, son of the late Laurent Pokou, had the honor of presenting the elegantly designed match ball to the audience.
The official ball, POKOU, is adorned with the three primary colors of the Cote d’Ivoire flag: white, orange, and green, while integrating cutting-edge technology that promises to revolutionize the game, not only on the African continent but across the globe.
Erwan Pokou expressed his deep emotions regarding 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 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.”
The TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations Cote d’Ivoire 2023 is scheduled to be held from January 13 to February 11, 2024, across various cities, including Abidjan, Bouake, Korhogo, San Pedro, and Yamoussoukro.
Known as L’homme d’Asmara, Laurent Pokou is widely regarded as one of the greatest players in Ivorian football history. To honor his immense contribution to the sport in Cote d’Ivoire, one of the tournament venues for AFCON 2023, in San Pedro, has been named the Laurent Pokou Stadium.
Pokou’s career accolades included being the top scorer in the 1968 and 1970 Africa Cup of Nations, and his 14 goals in the tournament remained a record for many years until Samuel Eto’o of Cameroon surpassed it in 2008.
Pokou’s legacy extends beyond borders, having played for Ivorian giants ASEC Mimosas, as well as having stints with French clubs Stade Rennes and Nancy. Sadly, he passed away on November 13, 2016, at the age of 69.
The introduction of the POKOU official match ball pays a fitting tribute to Laurent Pokou’s indelible mark on the sport and serves as a reminder of his enduring influence on the football landscape of Cote d’Ivoire and Africa as a whole.
It also reinforces the significance of the upcoming AFCON 2023, promising fans an exceptional celebration of football, legacy, and sportsmanship.