The claws of the terrible Laurent POKOU shots
For the rest, that’s what brought JOHER Yassine in the minutes of this match completely reversing, the next day, in the national daily newspaper, Fraternité Matin – 9th year ‘n’ 2608 – on Monday, July 23, 1973. «One is gradually heading towards Rennes victory which was, five minutes from the end, no doubt, when POKOU, on a corner marked (85th).» The ‘Cheetahs’ supporters believed without really believing in a reversal of the situation… And there’s that POKOU, the next minute, on an action of BOUAZO, put both teams tied (3-3). Useless, I think, to describe the outbreak of joy of the ASEC fans who were returning from far away… And the distress of the handful of Rennes supporters who lived an extraordinary event. The purpose of the qualification of Rennes was almost ‘ acquired in the 89th minute, but GUEHASSA, who was deputized his beat, Marc Porter out the ball (…) It took to do so playing extra time to finda winner. ASEC, momentum, scorait grace, again, POKOU at the 93rd minute on anew BOUAZO pass. The stadium, which was struggling, was this time caught in the throat. The 102nd minute, N’GUESSAN would mark the 5th goal, a goal challenged by Stade. It seemed that the player of ASEC’s action was valid, that it was vitiated by any irregularity… This goal of the ASEC set fire to the powder. Unfortunately, the matchwould end… »
This memorable semi-final of the National Cup shows how in the 1960s, 1970s and 1990, players of ASEC Mimosas knew wet the shirtto deny defeat. And it is in this way that they have been able to write the history of ASEC Mimosas. The current generation of mimosasplayers should learn from the behavior of its predecessors to well defend the colours of their club.
As a central defender of the Abidjan Stadium, you have been one of the major players in the famous semi-final of the National Cup ASEC Mimosas – Stadium in Abidjan, Sunday, July 22, 1973, at FHB Stadium. Semi-final that you have conducted (0-2) in the first half, then (1-3) up to 5 minutes from the end before we lose (5-3) after extra time. What memories do you have of this meeting?
Some of my teammates and I were not certain to play this game even if the President Mr. MONDON Konan Julien and our coach Luc-Olivier had decided that the entire team of the Abidjan stadium being green at the Grand Hotel. I was tripping, but there was a gentleman like Mama OUATTARA who played this position. SAGNABA Soma, another monument moved to the post of libero. Janvier KOUAO was right side and Adama DOUMBIA, left side. It’s 2 hours before thegame that our coach unveiled us the ranking that had surprised everyone. Mama OUATTARA and Sagnaba SOMA have not been selected. I’ve played the position of stop and I was the direct opponent of Laurent POKOU. N’DOYE Malick has played libero behind me. I saw Laurent POKOU an attacker very athletic, very committed, veryclever, but also very vicious. I understand so far why the direct opponents of Laurent POKOU often crumbled when they arguing a ballwith him. POKOU was the art of kicking his opponents to unbalancethem. We started the game, literally dominated the ASEC Mimosas in the first half and reached the break with the score of 0-2 to our advantage. On resumption, Laurent POKOU had reduced the brand.But we scored a third goal through KOUADIO Gaston and led 1-3 up to 5 minutes of the end where a fight broke out between our teammate Vincent KOUADIO and BAZO Christophe of ASEC Mimosas.This has caused a stoppage that lasted about 30 minutes. When thegame resumed, we did find out that the game was almost over. And then, in quick succession, Laurent POKOU scored two goals, restoring parity in the score 3 goals everywhere. During extra time, Laurent POKOU scored his fourth goal and that of his team. ASEC Mimosas scored a fifth goal byN’GUESSAN Bernard. For us, on the action of this purpose of N’GUESSAN Bernard, we saw the ball come out. N’GUESSAN Bernard controlled it to mark. We challenged this goal and thematch did not go to completion.
What do you caused this reversal of extraordinary situation for ASEC Mimosas?
–After the incident, it is true that the release of Vincent KOUADIO (he had been expelled with BAZO Christophe after their fight) was somewhat disorganized our game system. But I think it’s rather out of JANTUAH Justin, our defensive midfielder from the Asante Kotoko of Kumasi, which had weakened our midfield and helped ASEC Mimosas to control this sector to make a difference after the coming into play of BOUAZO Valentin.
What is it that you particularly marked this day there?
–It is the attendance of the public. That day, the FHB stadium was full as an egg. The intensity of the encounter and the turnaround which saw us lose (5-3) this match that we conduct (1-3) 5 minutes from the end are unforgettable. I am still very impressed with the tactical aspect of this meeting. Two coaches, ANZIAN Jean-Baptiste on the side of ASEC Mimosas and Luc Olivier on the side of the Abidjan Stadium showed all their tactical genius that day. But ANZIAN was able to reconfigure his team to prevail at the moment where we thought having definitely snatched the victory to his team. There was above all a man, Laurent POKOU who, at one point, took the game to his account to help his team win. POKOU was a great artist of the football. His death is a big loss for our football. His way to wet theshirt, to refuse defeat, to communicate with his teammates, it was extraordinary. POKOU scored this semi-final of his footprint. Ivorian television should show Laurent POKOU matches to the younger generation so that they can see the monument he was. Me Roger OUEGNIN him a monument to Sol Beni. I also admired the human side of POKOU. He was a good man, he always defended his teammates, he was an extraordinary kindness. Ivory Coast must capture POKOU by giving his name to a street or football stadium.