Some of Africa’s most celebrated football names including former winners of African Player of the Year joined their Moroccan counterparts in an exhibition match staged in hounour of those who lost their lives during the tragic Earthquake in September 2023.
The earthquake largely affected areas around Marrakech – the venue that will host Monday night’s CAF Awards.
On Sunday afternoon, the Legends joined over 100 kids from in and around Marrakech and a number of football officials.
The African legends included El Hadji Diouf (Senegal), Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon), Manuel Jose Luis Bucuane (Mozambique), Emmanuel Adebayor (Togo), Geremi Njitap (Cameroon), Pascal Feindouno (Guinea), Herita Illunga (DR Congo), Charles Kabore (Burkina Faso), Thomas Nkono (Cameroon) and Abedi Pele (Ghana).
Emmanuel Amunike (Nigeria), Ahmed Hassan (Egypt), Siaka Tiene (Côte d’Ivoire), Jonathan Pitroipa (Burkina Faso), Kalusha Bwalya (Zambia), Khalilou Fadiga (Senegal), Patrick M’Boma (Cameroon), Titi Camara (Guinea), Salomon Kalou (Côte d’Ivoire), Siphiwe Tshabalala (South Africa), Anthony Baffoe (Ghana) and Mustapha El Haddaoui (Morocco) were part of this memorable tribute game.
Notable women stars who played are Gaelle Enganamouit (Cameroon), Alberta Sackey (Ghana), Clementine Toure (Côte d’Ivoire), Onome Ebi (Nigeria) and Perpetua Nkwocha (Nigeria).
Two-time African Player of the Year – 2001 and 2002 and Senegalese icon El Hadji Diouf said: “We are one Africa and when one country hurts, we come together to show support. We have to be together especially in times like this. We want to show the families that we stand with them and that we shall never forget what happened. We are truly sorry for their loss.”
Former Togo captain Emmanuel Sheyi Adebayor added: “It is very important that we are here for the people of Marrakech and for them to know that we are with them in this.”
“Seeing the young children of Marrakech in the stands at the stadium meant so much to us as we really want to show them that we stand with them. When I was young, my parents supported me in education and in every way possible, so I felt their pain and hope that they went away inspired that we are with them.”
2015 Africa Women’s Player of the Year Gaelle Enganamouit from Cameroon added her voice to her colleagues and said, “It is an honour to give this love from our hearts. We need them to know that they are not alone. Football is very powerful. It is a platform that we can use to pass on this very strong message.”
Selfies at the end of the game with the young fans and most importantly an air of hope and feeling of trust from old friends, foes and new ones at large.
Cameroonian icon Patrick Mboma made a moving tribute at the end of the game saying, “This is a matter of solidarity. It was truly a tough time. It is important to show that we are with them in spirit. Football is a tool that we can use to show support and solidarity and with these star players in town for a few days, the message is clear. We are with the people of Marrakech.”
Marrakech has since made tremendous progress on the journey to recovery and with the CAF Awards 2023 in town, this is a momentous occasion to further show why football is the beautiful game and why football is more than a game.