AFCON 2024: ‘Pokou’, the official ball

Exactly two months and 21 days before the start of AFCON 2024, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and the equipment manufacturer Puma presented the official ball of the competition.

It was subtly presented for the first time on October 12, on the sidelines of the draw ceremony of the Nations Cup, scheduled from January 13 to February 11, 2024 in Ivory Coast.

The official ball of the 34th edition of the continental showpiece was carried by Erwan Édouard Pokou, son of the Ivorian legend and striker Laurent Pokou (30 caps, 21 goals).

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.

Eleven days later, on Monday, October 23, 2023, CAF and official sponsor Puma unveiled the competition's official match ball. The white ball has orange and green patterns, referring to two of the three colours of the Ivorian flag.

As mentioned on the official CAF website, it incorporates “the latest technologies that will revolutionise the game on the continent and beyond”.

Tribute to Pokou

The AFCON 2024 ball was named “Pokou” in homage to the emblematic former Elephants striker Laurent Pokou, who died in 2016 at the age of 69.

“It’s a moving moment for my family,” said Erwan Pokou. “It is a great honour for my late father, who devoted his life to Ivorian football, to see that the official AFCON ball in Côte d'Ivoire bears his name. The family appreciates the commitments of CAF and COCAN (organising committee of the AFCON 2023) in this celebration of the heroes and heroines of African football. This will motivate and inspire future generations to follow their example,” he added.

This is not the first time that the former ASEC Mimosas, Stade Rennais and AS Nancy player has been immortalised. The San Pedro Stadium, which will be one of the venues for the AFCON 2023 inherited Laurent Pokou's name in April 2022.

With 14 goals at the Nations Cup, Pokou was the top scorer in the history of the competition for more than 30 years, before being dethroned in 2008 by Cameroon's Samuel Eto'o, who now holds the record with 18 goals.

A two-time semi-finalist (1968, 1970), Pokou currently holds the record for most goals scored by a player in a single AFCON game. In February 1970, “the man from Asmara” found the net five times in the Elephants' 6-1 victory over Ethiopia.

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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.