- Six stadia across five cities will host the 2023 Africa cup of nations in Cote D’Ivoire come January 13 to February 11
- These venues have produced some of the most talented football players from Cote D’Ivoire, who have dazzled the continent and world at large with their remarkable skills.
- From Abidjan to Bouaké down to Korhogo, San-Pédro and Yamoussoukro, each city has played a role in the development of Ivorian football.
In less than two weeks, the eyes of the world will be on Cote D’Ivoire, as the country hosts the 2023 Africa cup of nations, the biggest football event on the continent.
Six stadia across five cities will welcome 24 teams and thousands of fans, who will witness the best of African football from January 13 to February 11.
These cities are not only the venues of this tournament, but also home to some of the most talented football players from Cote D’Ivoire, who have astonished the world with their extraordinary abilities.
The Abidjan collection
One of these cities is Abidjan, the largest city and economic capital of Cote D’Ivoire, which has produced some of the continent’s best football players. Among them are; Laurent Pokou, Didier Drogba, Didier Zokora, Abdoulaye Djiré, Christian Kouakou and many others.
Laurent Pokou was a striker who played for ASEC Abidjan, Stade Rennais, AS Nancy-Lorraine and the Ivory Coast national team.
He was the top scorer of the Africa Cup of Nations on two occasions, with six goals in 1968 in Ethiopia, and eight goals in 1970 in Sudan, including five in a single match against Ethiopia. The Man of Asmara as he was nicknamed held the record of the AFCON top scorer for 38 years.
This two-time African Footballer of the Year in 1970 and 1973, is considered one of the greatest African players of all-time and has a stadium named after him in San-Pédro.
Didier Drogba is another striker with roots in Abidjan. The two-time African footballer of the year, played for Le Mans, Guingamp, Marseille, Chelsea, Shanghai Shenhua, Galatasaray, Montreal Impact, Phoenix Rising and the Cote D’Ivoire national team.
He is the all-time top scorer and former captain of the elephants, with 65 goals in 105 appearances. He has won four Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups and one UEFA Champions League with Chelsea, and was named African Footballer of the Year in 2006 and 2009. He is also known for his humanitarian and peace efforts in his country.
Cheick Ismaël Tioté, the hero of Yamassoukrou
The beautiful town of Yamassoukrou has also contributed to the Ivorian football legacy. Stars like late Cheick Ismaël Tioté drew their first breath from this autonomous district.
Cheick Tioté was a remarkable defensive midfielder who played for Newcastle United and represented the Elephants. He won the Eredivisie title with FC Twente in 2010 and the Africa Cup of Nations with Ivory Coast in 2015. He also scored one of the most iconic goals in Premier League history, a stunning volley that completed a 4-4 comeback against Arsenal in 2011. He died of cardiac arrest in 2017, aged 30.
The Toure brothers from Bouake
Apart from the beautiful wood carving and weaving autonomously to the Baoulé people in Bouake, one center of attraction is the sons of the soil, the Touré brothers.
Yaya and Kolo, are among the most successful and influential Ivorian footballers of all time. They both started their careers at ASEC Mimosas, the most renowned club in Ivory Coast, where they received a rigorous footballing education. They both left their hometown of Bouaké, the second-largest city in the country, to pursue their dreams of playing in Europe.
Kolo Toure was the first to make the move, joining Arsenal in 2002 after a short tryout. He became a key member of the legendary ‘Invincibles’ team that won the Premier League title in 2004 without losing a single game. He later played for Manchester City, Liverpool, and Celtic, winning domestic trophies with each club. He also became the first player to go through two unbeaten league seasons with two different clubs. He earned 120 caps for the Côte D’Ivoire, featured in three FIFA World Cups and six Africa Cup of Nations tournaments. He is currently an assistant coach at Leicester City.
Yaya Toure followed his brother to Europe in 2003, joining Belgian side Beveren. He then had spells in Ukraine, Greece, and France before signing for Barcelona in 2007. He won two La Liga titles, one Copa del Rey, and one Champions League with the Catalan giants, playing as a versatile midfielder. He moved to Manchester City in 2010, where he became one of the most dominant and influential players in the Premier League. He helped City win three league titles, two FA Cups, and three League Cups, scoring crucial goals in many finals.
Korhogo and San Pedro have been endowed with AFCON to develop future greats
Korhogo and San Pedro may not have had the opportunity to birth one of these pioneers of Ivorian football, but the city’s sporting facilities and love for the sport has influenced the growth and development of the sport. Some of the promising talents of the new generation have honed their skills in some of the venues in these cities, such as the Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium in Korhogo and the Laurent Pokou Stadium in San Pedro, both of which have been newly-built for the tournament.
These stadiums have a capacity of 20,000 each and offer modern amenities and infrastructure for the players and the fans. Korhogo is also known for its multi-purpose stadium, the Stade Municipal de Korhogo, which hosts various sports events and also has facilities for athletics.
San Pedro is a seaside and tourist town with the second largest port and the largest cocoa export port in the country. It also boasts of a cosmopolitan vibe and a diverse array of foreign residents.
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