Herve Renard believes Kennedy Mweene will be the man to secure Zambia’s desperately-needed place into Sunday’s quarterfinals.
Zambia, on two points, must beat Burkina Faso, with four points in both sides’ final Group C match at Mbombela Stadium on January 29 to clinch a place in the quarterfinals.
The Zambia and Free State Stars goalkeeper arrived at the 2013 finals with a penalty stopping repertoire from the 2012 event held in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.
Mweene has not disappointed so far despite Zambia's poor form in South Africa where they have collected just two points from as many games in Group C ahead of their must-win final match against pool leaders Burkina Faso.
He has stopped one penalty in a 1-1 draw with Ethiopia on January 21 and converted another in a 1-1 finish against Nigeria to keep the defending champions in the hunt for a February 3 slot in the quarterfinals.
"In 2010 we drew against Tunisia 1-1 in our first game then we lost against Cameroon after a big mistake by Mweene," Renard said.
A howler in a 3-2 loss to Cameroon in their second Group D game in Angola led to a backlash at home for him to be dropped when it looked like another early Africa Cup exit beckoned for Zambia.
Mweene later atoned for his crime with heroic saves in a 2-1 win over Gabon to see Zambia scrape through to the last eight with Cameroon to see Chipolopolo reach the quarterfinals for the first time since 1996.
"You see life changes and every Africa Cup brings to you some new experience,” Renard said.
“He (Kennedy) made a mistake I remember and people were talking; ah! you have to remove him!
"I remember my talk with him during that time and I told him: ‘you will get our qualification against Gabon’ and we won this game after a very good game.
"Kennedy I think learnt a lot during that game and now he is able to make the difference like he did in the last two games here congratulations to him and thanks to him."