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Fatherhood helped Dolly grow as a footballer, person

Keagan Dolly of South Africa during the Banana Press Conference on Monday at Dobsonville Stadium. Picture: Sydney Mahlangu, BackpagePix

Soweto Derby hero Keagan Dolly could not hide his delight with his return to Bafana Bafana after an absence of two years.

JOHANNESBURG – When the Soweto Derby hero Keegan Dolly faced the media at Dobsonville Stadium on Monday, he could not hide his delight with his return to Bafana Bafana after an absence of two years.

“Last time I was here was when we (Bafana Bafana) played Sao Tome and a friendly against Uganda,” said Dolly.

“I have grown, learnt and became a father so a lot has changed. Right now, I’m loving my football.”

The changes Dolly were referring to were personal. His long-time girlfriend Tara Graham gave birth to a baby girl in May in France, where he was playing for the Ligue 1 outfit, Montpellier. His contract ended in May after he played there for four seasons.

ALSO READ: How Chiefs won the Soweto Derby

After Dolly’s matchwinning exploit for Chiefs over the weekend, Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos said the midfielder will have an important role to play in the upcoming World Cup Group G qualifiers against Zimbabwe and Ghana.

“I was very happy again for Keagan Dolly to score on two occasions,” said Broos. “Okay, one goal was from a penalty, but it is fine as he still managed to score twice.

So, the confidence from scoring will be there, and he can also be an important player for us in the game against Zimbabwe.”

Dolly’s brace for Chiefs was widely acclaimed on social media on Saturday evening and his popularity far exceeded the exploits of the victorious rugby and cricket national teams.

ALSO READ: ‘We can beat anyone in the league,’ says Baxter after derby win

In the process, Dolly joined an elite group of players who have scored a brace in Soweto Derby league matches. Their number includes former Bafana Bafana stars like Lesley Manyathela, Benni McCarthy (both Pirates), Siyabonga Nomvethe and the late Thabang Lebese (both Kaizer Chiefs). The latter also played for Pirates but achieved the two-goal feat while playing for Chiefs.

Bafana Bafana captain Ronwen Williams said the squad was missing players because of injury.

“We are missing a few players, so to Yusuf Maart, Mothobi Mvala and Sifiso Hlanti from all your Bafana Bafana brothers, get well soon,” said Williams.

Bafana Bafana team doctor Tshepo Molobi said Maart has returned to Sekhukhune United FC to recover from his injury.

“Yusuf picked up the knee injury with his club and we decided to be cautious,” said Molobi.

ALSO READ: Chiefs rule Soweto Derby thanks to Dolly’s brace

“Further injury could mean longer recovery time and we did not want to take that risk. Rather he recovers to full fitness under the care of his club. He is a young player and will bounce back soon.”

Broos was pleased with the way things went at Monday’s training session at the Dobsonville Stadium, the home of Moroka Swallows.

“I could not have asked for anything more and everyone had a great session,” said Broos. “They were all co-operative and getting along. Everyone is doing what is asked of them, and I can ask for nothing more.

“Now we turn on the focus and give it our all [for the upcoming qualifiers]”

Bafana Bafana, Group G log-leaders by one point from second-placed Ghana, will host Zimbabwe on Thursday night at the FNB Stadium (kick-off 9pm).

Bafana Bafana’s final Group G will be on Sunday against hosts Ghana at the Cape Coast Sports Stadium.


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