AFCON 2024: The Laurent Pokou Stadium in San Pedro

The Laurent Pokou stadium in San Pedro is one of the three newly built stadiums in Ivory Coast for AFCON 2024.

This year's competition is officially named AFCON 2023 since it was initially scheduled to take place last year but was postponed until January-February 2024.

Work on the stadium lasted four years and seven months, ending on September 8, 2023. Named Laurent Pokou in homage to the talented footballer of the 1960s and 70s, it is a multidimensional stadium that meets international standards.

Covering an area of more than 23 hectares, the building, which is rectangular with a concrete roof, has a natural grass lawn (105m by 68m), amongst other features.

Officially started in February 2019, the work on this infrastructure consisted of the construction of equipped locker rooms, toilets for the general public, four elevators, infirmaries, a media room, fully covered stands, and well-lit nearby parking lots. It also includes 10 access points for the general public and entries for competition organizers.

The Laurent Pokou stadium is located in the seaside town of San Pedro, 350 km from Abidjan. The construction work which began in February 2019 ended on September 8, 2023, the date of its official inauguration. In a renowned sporting region, the construction of this building will rekindle the flame of football and restore the taste of young football fans. Its construction contributed to the creation of thousands of direct and indirect jobs.

Laurent Pokou: The legend behind AFCON 2024 stadium

The venue is named after the legend of Ivorian football Laurent Pokou, the previous all-time top scorer in the history of the AFCON (14 goals) who died in 2016. Interestingly, the official ball of AFCON 2024 is also named after Pokou.

“It is a well-deserved tribute to ‘The Man from Asmara' (nickname of Laurent Pokou) for all the services rendered to Ivorian and African football. He deserved it and I think the government was well inspired,” says Dago Charles, former Ivorian international.

AFCON 2023: The Laurent Pokou Stadium in San Pedro will host Group F matches
Credit: Icon Sport

The make-up of Laurent Pokou Stadium

The total cost of this 20,000-seat stadium, the AFCON city of 32 villas and four training grounds, is estimated at more than 41 billion CFA Francs, or 62.5 million Euros, and financed entirely by the Ivorian State.

To test the capacity of all its infrastructures, the Ivorian Football Federation, in agreement with the Confederation of African Football (CAF), had its national team welcome Lesotho to the Pokou Stadium for their final AFCON 2023 qualifiers last September.

The feedback was mixed and it made it possible to sort out shortcomings, thus making the Laurent Pokou stadium fit to host the CAF Women's Champions League Group B matches from November 5 to 19.

After putting it through the test successfully, the stadium got green-lit for AFCON 2024. It will host Group F matches involving Morocco, DR Congo, Zambia and Tanzania.

Thanks, in particular, to favourable climatic and geological conditions, the San Pedro region benefits from a developed economy. It is home to the leading cocoa exporting port in the world, the second largest port in Ivory Coast after that of Abidjan.

Equipped with all the amenities of a modern city in terms of security, urban transport, telecommunications, banks, and European and African restaurants, the city of San Pedro stands out for its seaside resort.

There are more than 150 kilometers of developed beaches plus a hotel system of 500 rooms for 31 hotels. We can add to this the furnished residences, which have sprouted like mushrooms as the Nations Cup approaches.

The climate is transitional equatorial, alternating between rainy and dry seasons, between 24 and 27 degrees C° in the region. This is explained by the direct influence of the Atlantic Ocean and the plant cover. This influence is significant due to the proximity of the Taï national park (a large nature reserve).

AFCON 2024: The Laurent Pokou Stadium in San Pedro
Credit: Icon Sport

Tourist attractions around San Pedro

The city of San Pedro has many tourist sites that are worth visiting by fans:

Monogaga Beach: Located 31 km from San Pedro on the old road leading to Sassandra, it has a fishing village and allows water activities, relaxation and swimming.

The TAKI Site: Located 22 km from San Pedro on the Grand Béréby axis, the Taki site is a very beautiful beach. There are rocks and a forest in its surroundings. You can go swimming, relaxing, fishing and some water activities there. This is what makes it an attractive setting that regularly welcomes visitors.

The Bay of Mermaids: Located 55km from San Pedro, and 500m from the coastal town of Grand-Béréby, the Bay of Mermaids has bungalows with a magnificent view of the sea. The program includes visits to turtles and monkeys, a natural swimming pool, an aromatic garden, etc.

San Pedro is a peaceful city and its inhabitants are eagerly awaiting the start of AFCON 2024.

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Kelechi Udoka

Kelechi is an avid Enyimba fan who enjoys writing about the beautiful game. He has written thousands of articles for a few publications over the years.