Zambia won, on 12th of February 2012, their first ever African Nations’ Cup title, after two previous attempts. Christopher Katongo, the captain of the national side, was named the best footballer of the competition, but the most charismatic from all Zambian players was by far Kennedy Mweene, the goalkeeper. In the final against Ivory Coast he saved two shootout kicks, even though that one was repeated by the referee, and scored from a penalty which was the last from the first five! And he did it in a great style, which remind us of the executions of the ‘specialist’ Gaizka Mendieta.
Mweene made an extraordinary, but in the first half he picked a dangerous ball, but from outside the box. Still, the gap was so small, that not even the assistant referee had notice. Although he ought to realize, because Kennedy commited the same mistake in the opening encounter, against Senegal, when Zambia won, surprisingly, with 2-1. Than, the goalkeeper exited approximately half a meter from the box and caught the ball, mistake that he immediately recognized.
Born on 11th of December 1984 in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, Mweene began playing professionally at Lusaka Celtics, in 2003. In fact, he was only under contract with this squad as he didn’t played a single match. His debut came in 2004, but by than he was the player of Lusaka Dynamos. After a season and 27 matches played here, he moved to Kitwe United, the holders of the national Cup. Kennedy became a main player here and appeared in 30 games. So, it was obviously that he got to go on playing in a better championship and so he moved south and signed with Free State Stars, from South Africa, a quite new team, which was founded in 1977, in a small village from a small area, called then QwaQwa, and played in the top flight, for the first time, in 1986.
He plays there for seven years by now and even though the team didn’t won yet a major trophy, Mweene signed a contract that lasts until 2014. In his first season at Free Stars, 2005-2006, the squad relegated, but Kennedy discovered, two years later, his goal appetite when he transformed his first penalty. In the following stages he put in five more, reaching an impressive number for a goalkeeper. In total, he appeared in 142 league matches, from which 19 in the second tier and despite not winning one single important trophy, he did what so ever refuse to sign with more powerful South African teams and kept loyalty to the club. Here he was team mate, between 2005 and 2007, with Siphiwe Tshabalala, the first scorer of the World Cup from 2010. Also, in the 2009-2010 season he won the distinction that rewards the best goalkeeper from the league. In the history of Free Stars he has the status as being the most capped footballer in a senior national team. No wonder, if we consider that he already played 67 games for Zambia, even though he is only 27.
He appeared for the first time at international level in 2004 and since then he remained the first choice goalkeeper. He was selected to the four last African Nations’ Cup, and after two group phases, he helped his country to reach the quarter finals in 2010, when they played against Nigeria and also went through a shootout. Mweene scored the last penalty as he did in this year’s final, but so he did the opposite goalkeeper, Vincent Enyema and considering that a Zambian missed a previous kick, the ‘Bullets’ failed to go through. But now, his penalty qualified the country to the sudden death at the shootout from the final.