Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) president, Kalusha Bwalya, has become the first and only personality in African football to have attended the Africa Cup of Nations finals as a player and captain, coach and president of his country’s football federation.
Kalusha, the 1988 African Footballer of the Year, played for the Chipolopolo for over 20 years; winning a record-setting 100 caps and scoring 50 goals –- another record for the Zambia national team.
Since making his debut for the Chipolopolo, then KK11 in 1982, the Great Kalu went on to play in six Africa Cup finals tournaments, the highest by any Zambian player. The African player with the record Nations Cup appearances is Cameroon defender Rigobert Song, who is playing his eighth finals at Angola 2010.
Kalusha led Zambia to the final match of the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations in Tunisia, where the Chipolopolo were pipped to the title by the Super Eagles of Nigeria in a 2-1 thriller at the El Menzah Stadium in Tunis. It was the first major finals tournament for a rebuilt Zambia team, which had suffered tragedy when a Buffalo military plane crashed off the coast of Gabon just months earlier as the team was enroute to a 1994 Fifa World Cup qualifier against Senegal. Needing only a point away to Morocco, Zambia missed out on USA 1994 after a controversial 1-0 loss in Casablanca.
In 1996 Kalusha led the Chipolopolo to a bronze medal win after beating Ghana in the third place play-off match in South Africa.
The Great Kalu, as the FAZ president is fondly referred to, finished CAN 1996 in South Africa as top scorer.
He then took over the reigns of the Zambia national team after the Chipolopolo failed to qualify for the 2004 Africa Cup finals. He restored order and qualified the team for the finals in Egypt in 2006. He was then technical director and vice president of the Football Association of Zambia.
He then took over as FAZ president in 2008 and is leading the Chipolopolo at the ongoing 27th Orange Africa Cup of Nations as FAZ chief; a note for the record books of African football.