Mamelodi Sundowns goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene became the center of attention during the MTN 8 penalty shootout at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Sunday afternoon, saving four out of the five penalties he faced in the season opening win.
The Zambian international goalkeeper delivered an outstanding performance that earned him admiration after saving four penalty kicks out of five that were taken by opponents Kaizer Chiefs. The two teams could not settle the score during the thrilling encounter in open play as Amakhosi fought tooth and nail to equalize after The Brazilians who had taken the lead in the first half of the match.
“I think it wasn’t the best of performances, but considering that it’s the first game of the season obviously there will be some shortcomings in terms of fitness, the cohesion in the team and it could show when we were playing. It doesn’t matter how we won it, at the end of the day it’s a trophy which has eluded us for so many years since I’ve been at Sundowns.” said Kennedy.
Many fans and supporters from both teams were holding their breath during the thrilling encounter that began with Downs’ dominance of possession and two well-worked goals. The Yellow Nation is buzzing with excitement and confidence in their team to bring home the cup title that they haven’t had luck with getting their hands on in a decade.
“For me personally I need this trophy more than anything, I think it is the only thing [that I don’t have] in my trophy cabinet. We were disappointed, we were leading 2-0, then ending up giving away the lead [but] it was one of those games. It was the first game of the season, it was the first 90 minutes we played [plus extra time] we will always find those shortcomings.” said Mweene.
Kennedy is a decorated goalkeeper that has won six South African Championships, the Nedbank Cup, the Telkom Knockout Cup, the prestigious CAF Champions League and the CAF Super Cup with Bafana Ba Style.
Kennedy is looking forward to many more wins with The Brazilians: “Success will never be enough. I am saying that because you can never get enough of it, if you have the feeling of playing in the Champions League final [and] going to the FIFA World Club it’s something which every player wants to do. At the end of the day that’s my personal ambition because I can not say that I’ve got enough now. I still want to win the Champions League and the Nedbank Cup.”
Kennedy is an experienced member when it comes to being involved in penalty shootouts for both club and country. However one of his strongest weapons is that he is just as capable from the spot as he is on the line, with Mweene scoring in multiple shootouts throughout his career. The veteran keeper once again stepped up to take a penalty on Sunday and was the talk of the town as he coolly slotted past Itumeleng Khune in goals, before returning to the line to continue his flurry of saves. When asked, Mweene made mention of the advantage he has as a goalkeeper in shootouts:
“I am a goalkeeper, I know the weaknesses of a goalkeeper. We don’t have the patience to wait, especially when the kicker is taking a long [time] to kick. The longer the player takes the more impatient we become as goalkeepers [what we prefer is] when the referee blows the whistle, the kicker runs to you and finds you ready. Those are some of the other things which most of the in-field players don’t take into consideration, we are not as patient as players when they are taking long to kick.”
“One thing (that players do) nine times out of ten they show you the way they stand on the ball, if they are a left footer their right leg will always point where they are going. If they are right footed, their left foot will show exactly where they are going, it’s a trick which not a lot of people know. It’s a few players that change but out of ten, I can tell you the way the player stands tells you where they are going.”
Kennedy went on further to explain that his spectacular shot against the Soweto giants was not a fluke, “Most of my fellow goalkeepers at Sundowns know, out of ten most of the time they only save one. It’s something which we always tease each other when we are training and practicing.”
Speaking on how often he practices penalties, ‘Kapalaya’ knows that experience matters most as well as being able to shoulder the responsibility that comes at the spot: “I don’t take more than one penalty [at practice], it’s not something I do everyday but it depends on the feeling. There was no way we could leave the new players and the younger ones who just came and expose them to take the responsibility of taking a penalty, we know the pressure that’s at Sundowns, so some of us as senior players we had to step up.”
The African Cup of Nations Champion goalkeeper delighted over his performance, saying this was his highest number of penalties saved in his career:
“Sunday’s penalty shoot-out is the one that stands out, even at AFCON I saved two and now I saved four. I’ve never saved four penalties in my career since I started being a goalkeeper, this was my first time. It’s something which is good.”
My advice to young goalkeepers would be for them to be mentally strong, goalkeeping is not easy. It’s very demanding because you really use every part of your body you have to look after yourself. You need to have lots of energy, week in and week out, it doesn’t matter if you are training or, playing a friendly game, your attitude must be strong.”
Mweene and the Brazilians are now stepping up the preparations for the league opener against AmaZulu on Friday evening at Loftus Versfeld. Downs are scheduled to begin their title defence at 17:00 with the game being broadcast on SuperSport PSL channel 202.