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Afcon 2023: Guide to Laurent Pokou Stadium in San Pedro

Located in the port city of San-Pédro on the Ivorian south-west coast, the Laurent Pokou Stadium will host eight fixtures during the upcoming African Cup of Nations. With the tournament due to kick off in mid-January 2024, we take a closer look at this recently-constructed stadium in the sections below.

Laurent Pokou Stadium – Key Facts   

The stadium facilitates 20,000 spectators at full capacity, and is therefore one of the smallest venues at AFCON 2023. Opened in September 2023, the stadium's first competitive fixture saw Ivory Coast record a narrow victory over Lesotho, as the Elephants concluded their AFCON qualification campaign. Nottingham Forest’s Ibrahim Sangaré grabbed the only goal of the tie, just over a week after sealing his move to the East Midlands outfit.

Who is the stadium named in honour of?

Legendary Ivorian striker Laurent Pokou netted 21 times for his country in just 30 international appearances, and concluded the 1968 and 1970 African Cup of Nations Championships as the tournament’s top scorer. The predatory frontman also enjoyed successful spells with French sides Nancy and most notably Stade Rennais, before retiring in his native homeland at Abidjan-based ASEC Mimosas. Pokou died in November 2016, but will always be fondly remembered amongst Ivorian football fans.

Laurent Pokou, after whom the laurent pokou stadium is named
Laurent Pokou | Photo: Icon Sport

How long did it take to build?

Organisers envisioned the stadium would take two years to construct, but these original estimates had to be revised largely as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic. Five years after builders broke ground in September 2018, the venue was finally ready for use. The construction of the stadium was conducted by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, with almost 1,000 workers employed to deliver the project. It’s believed building costs amounted to a total of 41.716bn Central African (CFA) francs, which roughly equates $68.65m USD.

Owned by the Ivorian government, the stadium does not currently provide residence to any local club side.

What is the Laurent Pokou stadium like?

A slick and eye-catching venue with several distinguishing key features, the Laurent Pokou undoubtedly has plenty of charm. Gaps at the north and south ends of the ground are reminiscent of the auditorium-style design of Monaco’s Louis II Stadium, whilst its curved roofs and brightly coloured seats – painted to reflect the orange, green, and white of the Ivory Coast national flag – add to its aesthetic appeal. Although the incorporation of athletics tracks often distances crowds and therefore undermines a venue's matchday atmosphere, in the Laurent Pokou’s case, the intimate nature and tight dimensions of the stadium overrides this potential issue.

What AFCON fixtures will be staged at this venue?

The Laurent Pokou will host five fixtures from Group F (consisting of Morocco, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Zambia), the Group E contest between Namibia and Mali, and two Round of 16 clashes involving the Group B runners-up, the Group E runners-up, and the Group F winners and runners-up. Ivory Coast, who were drawn into Group A as hosts, will therefore not feature at this venue at any stage throughout the tournament.

How to get to the Laurent Pokou Stadium

The stadium is situated in the northern suburbs of San-Pédro, approximately eight kilometres from the city centre. Fans travelling by car from the centre of Sán-Pedro should take the main exit road eastwards, initially following signs towards Abidjan. There are ample parking facilities at the stadium.

Although there is currently no rail links into San-Pédro, fans travelling from the African continent (and beyond) are able to fly directly to the city.

Footage of the stadium in the link below:


Ryan Murray

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