JOHANNESBURG – Injury-free Keagan Dolly says he’s grateful for linking up with his Bafana Bafana teammates and representing the national team once again, after struggling with injuries that kept him in France for more than 15 months.
Dolly spent the last two seasons more in the medical room than on the field of play. Between September 2018 and March 2019, he suffered two injuries – a shin fracture and hamstring – that ruled him out of action for several weeks.
Dolly’s injury woes followed him through the year as he missed the Africa Cup of Nations after injuring himself while in camp with Bafana. As if 2019 couldn’t get worse, the 27-year-old attacker sustained another injury during another Bafana camp later in the year.
But that’s all in the past. Dolly is determined to make the most of the current opportunity by representing French club Montpellier FC and Bafana with distinction, having had his first full pre-season in almost two years.
“It’s exciting for me to be back with the national team and Montpellier after struggling with injuries for two seasons. It’s really a good feeling. I don’t know when last did I feel like this but I am really excited and happy to be fully fit,” Dolly gratefully said.
Having played five matches in the French Ligue 1 this season, Dolly has made two appearances from the bench for Montpellier. However, he is pleased with his contribution for Bafana after playing the full 90 minutes when they drew 1-1 with Namibia in an international friendly on Thursday.
“It’s exciting for me to be back at home after spending 15 months in France, especially after the pandemic that came about and affected all of us. So, I am truly happy to be back at home, seeing familiar faces and representing the country again,” he said.
The South Africans did not get the desired result against the Brave Warriors at Royal Bafokeng Stadium, in Rustenburg. But they’ll return to the same venue this afternoon (3pm kick-off) hoping to make amends when they square off with fellow Cosafa rivals Zambia.
These two matches are set to get the national team up to speed as they are preparing for the 2022 Afcon qualifiers against Sao Tome and Principe in back-to-back clashes next month. After two matches in the qualifiers, Bafana are second in Group C, three points behind leaders Ghana.
“We’ll take positives from the game against Namibia and we’ll try to minimise our mistakes. It’s another opportunity for the players that didn’t play against Namibia to get a run and raise their hands,” Dolly said.
“It’s the qualifiers next month. So, we need to win tomorrow (this afternoon) and make sure that we get our confidence back heading to the matches against Sao Tome and Principe next month.”
It’s match day in Rustenburg. South Africa vs Zambia in the last friendly match ahead of 2021 AFCON qualifiers. Catch the action live on @SPORTATSABC at 15h00 #OneNationOneBeer #WeLoveIt @CastleLagerSA @LeCoqSportif_SA pic.twitter.com/GcZPNkxqbZ
— Bafana Bafana (@BafanaBafana) October 11, 2020
In ensuring that he has a fully fledged squad for the clash against the islanders Sao Tome, coach Molefi Ntseki called up a blended squad, mixed with experience and inexperienced players, for his two friendlies, against Namibia and Zambia.
Dolly believes that it was a wise selection from the coach, considering that he has to secure the future of the team and juggle between Bafana’s commitments in the Afcon and World Cup qualifiers next year.
“In the past few years that I’ve been in the camp, there’s been an integration of young and experienced players. I think that’s been working for us because there’s a pool of young talented players in South Africa. In these games, they’ll get the experience they need,” he said.