CAF unveils 2023 AFCON mascot Named “AKWABA”

The official Mascot is named AKWABA, derived from a local Ivorian language meaning welcome.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has launched the official Mascot of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.

The official launch of the mascot was done in conjunction with the Organizing Committee (COCAN) and the Government of Cote d’Ivoire.

The official Mascot is named AKWABA, derived from a local Ivorian language meaning welcome.

The launch signifies the commencement of the countdown to the kick-off of Africa’s flagship football competition.

The opening match of the AFCON 2023 will be played on January 13, 2023.

The Terangha Lions of Senegal are the current African champions.

Meanwhile, Play-offs in the CAF Confederation Cup — the African equivalent of the Europa League — will be ditched from the 2023-2024 season, it was confirmed on Saturday.

The decision to scrap the third and final round of qualifying for the group phase was made at a CAF executive committee meeting in Rabat.

Play-offs pitted winners of Confederation Cup last-32 ties against losers of CAF Champions League last-32 ties, and have been part of the competition since its 2004 debut.

Winners of Confederation Cup last-32 ties will now go directly into the group phase.

A CAF statement gave no reasons for the decision, but the cost of competing in the Confederation Cup was likely to have been a factor.

Clubs receive prize money only from the group phase, meaning they must fund all costs for playing in the preliminary round, round of 32 and play-offs.

Cape Town City FC chairman John Comitis has said that it cost his club three million rand ($160,000/€145,000) in expenses to compete for three rounds in Africa last season.

Travelling is a challenge for clubs in Africa with limited flight options and high costs, and teams from southern nations often fly to northern countries via Doha or Dubai to cut costs.

Title-holders USM Alger of Algeria and former winners FUS Rabat of Morocco and Zamalek of Egypt are among the clubs who have entered the 2023-2024 Confederation Cup.

The preliminary round is scheduled for August, the round of 32 for September/October and the first group matches will be played on December 3.

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