As the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2023 approaches in just three days, the atmosphere in Abidjan and other major cities is charged with a mix of excitement and confidence as the countdown intensifies. All eyes are on Ivory Coast as the nation gears up to host the African football extravaganza for the second time in its history.
Preparations for the tournament are well underway, with nearly 90 percent completion evident in street decorations and final touches to the stadiums. The tournament is scheduled to take place in six stadiums across the country.
The Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan, with a capacity of 60,000 seats, will host the opening match between Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea-Bissau on Saturday, January 13 (9 p.m.), as well as the final on Sunday, February 11 (9 p.m.). Additionally, five other Ivorian stadiums will play host to various matches.
As the 34th edition of AFCON unfolds, featuring 24 African nations, the organising committee has set up a warm welcome for teams arriving in Ivory Coast. Traditional dancers stationed at airports will greet each team with captivating dance moves accompanied by the AFCON anthem, “Akwaba.”
While the ambiance is palpable in major cities, other areas not directly involved in the competition or lacking stadiums show a more subdued response. However, markets in Abidjan are bustling with a festive atmosphere, drawing in tourists and influencers from across Africa for the highly anticipated event.
Ivory Coast has transformed its streets with dazzling lights and decorations, creating a unique atmosphere to signify the significance of the upcoming tournament.
Despite the extensive efforts of the organizing team and the government, some individuals express dissatisfaction, labeling it a “timid AFCON.” Popular Ivorian influencer, Emmanuel Keita, remarks, “Is it me, or isn’t the AFCON a news event? It is supposed to be flaunted everywhere on social media. It is timid whereas it is supposed to be an interesting one.”
CAF’s Prize Pool has added to the allure of the tournament, with a total of $14.8 million on offer. The winner is set to receive a substantial amount of $7 million, marking a 40% increase from the previous AFCON in 2019. The runner-up will take home $4 million, a notable increase from previous years.
With preparations nearly complete, and the countdown beat increasing, all eyes are eagerly focused on Ivory Coast as the nation readies itself to host the prestigious AFCON tournament.