© Sydney Mahlangu
Former Sundowns Goalkeeper, Kennedy Mweene, representing the club during a DSTV Premiership match Author: John AliuWith an illustrious career spanning 10 decorated years at Mamelodi Sundowns, Kennedy ‘Kapalaya’ Mweene leaves behind a legacy of remarkable goalkeeping skills, heart-stopping penalty saves and gravity-defying leaps that the Yellow Nation will forever cherish.Having clinched an impressive eight Premier Soccer League (PSL) titles, three Nedbank Cups, two Telkom Knockout titles, one MTN 8 title, the coveted CAF Champions League crown and the glorious CAF Super Cup, Mweene has undoubtedly solidified his position as one of the greatest footballers to grace the corridors of Chloorkop.

The Zambian legend graciously reflected on the highlights of his illustrious career while speaking with the Mamelodi Sundowns Digital Magazine crew.

“Spending a decade at one club is a remarkable achievement and I am incredibly proud of the journey I have had with Mamelodi Sundowns. Among the many unforgettable moments, one stands out above the rest—the year we secured the prestigious CAF Champions League title in 2016. That triumph remains the pinnacle of my career with this illustrious club and it will forever hold a special place in my heart,” he shared with heartfelt enthusiasm.

Kennedy’s journey as a professional footballer began in 2003 when he signed his first senior contract with Zambia’s Lusaka Celtic. A year later, he joined Lusaka Dynamos, where his impressive displays caught the attention of Kitwe United, who signed him in 2005. He later moved to Free State Stars, where he showcased his talents until 2013. It was then that he made the decision to sign for Masandawana, embarking on a new chapter in his career, where he achieved remarkable success and won every possible trophy.
With two decades of experience as a professional footballer under his belt, Mweene generously shared his secret to longevity, revealing the key principles that have guided him throughout his journey.

“If you respect football, football respects you back. The most important factors are sacrifice and humility. Success doesn’t just come; you have to earn it. To last long in football, you must be willing to go the extra mile. It’s about reflecting on your habits, your dedication and your character,” Kapalaya explained.
Despite his primary role as a goalkeeper, Mweene showcased his goal-scoring abilities during his playing career. The Chipolopolo legend holds the remarkable distinction of being the second-highest goal-scoring goalkeeper in Africa, having netted an impressive 13 goals, 11 behind Nigeria’s Vincent Enyeama.

When asked about one of his most memorable moments at Sundowns, Kennedy pointed to his virtuous performance against Kaizer Chiefs during the MTN 8, where he stopped four penalty kicks and cheekily slotted one himself.
© Sydney MahlanguKennedy Mweene representing Sundowns during 2023 Nedbank Cup Last 16 Draw “During the 2012 African Cup of Nations (AFCON), when we emerged victorious, I had the memorable experience of saving one penalty kick and successfully converting mine during the penalty shootout final against Ivory Coast. Similarly, two years ago, I repeated the feat against Chiefs in the quarterfinal of the MTN 8 competition. To save and score in any game or shootout holds tremendous significance and brings immense satisfaction,” said the Zambian legend.

When asked about the strikers he never looked forward to facing, Kennedy highlighted four names, “Playing against Mabhuti Khanyeza, Nyasha Mushekwi, Fadlu Davids and Thamsanqa Gabuza was never an enjoyable experience for me. Their aggressive approach on the field made things extremely challenging whenever I faced them.”

The strong shot-stopper, who witnessed several eras during his playing career at Chloorkop, humorously listed a truckload of funny characters he shared the dressing room with.

“There are so many of them, including Elias Pelembe, Teko Modise, Surprise Moriri, Lebohang Mokoena, Anthony Laffor, Cuthbert Malajila, Katlego Mashego, Mame Niang, Hlompho Kekana and Tiyani Mabunda. Yoh! that dressing room had lots of exciting personalities and funny moments. More recently, there is Denis Onyango, Aubrey Modiba, Teboho Mokoena, Themba Zwane, Sipho Mbule, Sphelele Mkhulise and Siyabonga Mabena,” the goalkeeper chuckled.

If he hadn’t pursued a football career, Kapalaya revealed that he would have chosen to become a policeman, saying, “My family wanted me to become one, but I refused and insisted on football. Imagine if I was called Lieutenant Kapalaya,” he joked. The goalkeeper’s parents were police officers and two of his siblings are in the force.
© Samuel ShivambuPeter Shalulile and Kennedy Mweene during the 2022 MTN8 semifinal Mamelodi Sundowns Training and Press ConferenceThe decorated and acrobatic goalkeeper has already become an integral part of the club’s technical team set-up, taking on a role to join Coach in the Goalkeeping Department . With the new season on the horizon, Mweene has set out his goals and ambitions for this new chapter in his career.

“Obviously, I want to replicate the successes I had as a player and achieve the same (and more) as a coach. The aim at Mamelodi Sundowns is to compete for all trophies on offer and it would be special to win a 7th straight league title and lift the CAF Champions League trophy as part of the technical team. If you look at Pep Guardiola’s journey from playing to coaching, he has been a constant winner as a player and as a coach, it would be special to replicate the same feats,” he expressed with determination.

When asked about which goalkeepers, both domestic and international, would make his five-a-side team, Mweene jokingly insisted on being biased and opted for names associated with Masandawana. “Ronwen Williams, Denis Onyango, Reyaad Pieterse, Thela Ngobeni and myself,” he playfully remarked.

Kapalaya further reiterated his love for South African supporters and the entire Yellow Nation stating, “I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to all the supporters who have had the opportunity to cheer me on. To the Yellow Nation, my blood will always be Yellow. My journey as a footballer has ended, and it’s now time for me to create more memories as a coach. We have a big season ahead of us and I am excited to be part of it.”

On the international stage, the legendary goalkeeper amassed 122 appearances for the Zambian national team, scoring twice. He will forever be remembered for famously leading Chipolopolo to the AFCON title in 2012.
As Kennedy hangs up his gloves and transitions into his new role, his impact on the game will undoubtedly continue to be felt. With his wealth of experience, he will play a crucial role in sharing his wisdom and expertise with the next generation of in-field players and goalkeepers at the club, leaving a lasting legacy in the development of young talents.