This is a player who will almost always make the starting line-up when fit.
KEAGAN Dolly would be forgiven for thinking he is jinxed to never have an extended run for Bafana Bafana.
How else must a player feel when injury strikes every time he gets close to or into the senior national team’s jersey?
Dolly had yet another unfortunate injury setback this past weekend in the Nelson Mandela Challenge against Mali just when he was enjoying himself on the pitch.
“Unfortunately he got the knock and we had to pull him out,” said a visibly disappointed Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki. “I really felt bad for him because he was really enjoying himself out there, no doubt delighted to finally be playing for Bafana. The energy and the positive attitude that you will always get from Keagan makes him a player you want in the team.”
It was not immediately clear how serious the injury was and whether it will deprive him of his position in the team for the upcoming 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Ghana and Sudan next month. But the Montpellier player has gone back to France where he will be assessed by the club’s medical team.
Should he be declared unfit to play in the qualifiers, Dolly would really be gutted. This, after all, is a player who will almost always make the starting line-up when fit.
But injuries have contrived to keep him out on so many occasions. He was a certainty for Afcon in Egypt in June but was ruled out at the last minute.
Ntseki, who began his tenure as Bafana coach with victory on Sunday was assistant to Stuart Baxter and has memories of how heartbroken Dolly was to miss out on Afcon.
“I remember when we went to play Libya in Tunisia (final Afcon qualifier), Dolly got injured in our last training session before the game. He felt very bad and he was actually crying,” Ntseki said.
But such was his determination to go to Afcon that he asked to be included in the Under-23 squad – sprinkled with some Bafana potentials – that played in the Cosafa Cup as Baxter was yet to finalise his squad for Egypt.
“He went to Cosafa with the team but unfortunately he could not make it because he got injured,” Ntseki recalled.
Dolly was injured again at the weekend, the disappointment so clear on his face as he walked off the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium pitch to make way for Themba Zwane.
Ntseki clearly knew what his player was feeling and tried to cushion the blow with an embrace.
“It has been very difficult for Dolly as a player, but he is very strong mentally. Today, he started the game and he was buzzing.
“He was doing well for himself and the team.”