THE STARS WHO HAVE NEVER WON: Kalusha Bwalya, miraculous but upset genius


By Nkweto Tembwe


Kalusha Bwalya, miraculous but upset genius

For the 34th edition of the African Cup of Nations, Seneweb revisits the history of African football through the great talents who shone in Africa and Europe, but who never had the chance to win the CAN despite a exceptional talent.

African Ballon d’Or in 1988, Kalusha Bwalya left his mark on the history of African football and that of his country, Zambia. A true ball genius, the striker, who played for Club Brugge and PSV Eindhoven, was a great player as well as a man highly appreciated in his country, where he is an icon. However, despite his immense talent, Kalusha, who participated in six African Cups of Nations (CAN), never won the trophy.

Zambia has experienced very difficult times in African football. This small southern African country has lost two CAN finals (1974 and 1994). Worse still, on April 27, 1993, the golden generation of Zambian football, which was to face Senegal, disappeared in a terrible air disaster. Only one player escaped this tragedy: Kalusha Bwalya.

As a sign of destiny, Kalusha, very touched by the loss of his teammates, agreed to participate in the reconstruction of a new team to compete in the 1994 CAN.

A competition that the Chipolopolo marked by their talent and determination. Zambia is having a magnificent run. Unfortunately, they fell in the final against a formidable Nigerian team who won 2-1. Despite this failure, Kalusha, who had previously participated in the 1986 and 1992 CANs without success, would again lead Zambia to the 1996 CAN in South Africa.

On South African soil, Zambia easily passed the first round, Kalusha Bwalya scoring a double against Burkina Faso (5-1) and a hat-trick against Sierra Leone (4-0). In the quarter-final, Zambia won against Egypt (3-1).

But in the semi-final, Kalusha and his teammates were eliminated by Tunisia (2-4). Zambia won 3rd place by beating Ghana thanks to a goal from Joël Bwalya, Kalusha’s little brother. In 1998 in Burkina Faso, Kalusha Bwalya and Zambia were eliminated in the first round despite a goal from the 1988 Ballon d’Or in the victory against Mozambique (3-1).

In 2000 in Nigeria, the former PSV Eindhoven player in the Dutch championship played his last CAN. In a Zambian team undergoing reconstruction, Kalusha Bwalya scored a goal on the last day against Senegal (2-2) but did not prevent the elimination of Zambia in the first round.

Thus, despite his great talent, Kalusha Bwalya, top scorer in the history of the Zambian selection (59 goals and 107 caps) will never win the CAN on the field.

However, as president of the Zambia Football Federation, he managed to win the elusive AFCON trophy in 2012, against a fire blazing Ivorian squad.



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