Captain of the South African Men’s under-23 National Team Keagan Dolly has been released early from the camp, and is on his way back to South Africa as he has to go and prepare for his club’s (Mamelodi Sundowns) Telkom Final against clash against Kaizer Chiefs on Wednesday, 16 December in Durban at the Moses Mabhida Stadium. Dolly flew out of Dakar in the early hours of this morning (Sunday, 13 December) after leading his country to a bronze medal finish following a 3-1 win over Senegal in the CAF under-23 Africa Cup of Nations tournament on Saturday, 12 December at Stade Leopold Sedar Senghor after the match ended in goalless draw.
With the third place finish, South Africa booked their place at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil next year. The CAF under-23 AFCON tournament was won by Nigeria who defeated Algeria 2-1 in the final. Both countries have also qualified for the Games, scheduled to take place from 5 – 21 August 2016. South Africa was also awarded the Fair Play Award at the end of the tournament in Senegal.
Gift Motupa, Menzi Masuku and Phakamani Mahlambi scored for South Africa, while Kwanda Mngonyama and Dolly had their spot kicks saved. South African goalkeeper Jody February was the hero of the match as he saved four penalties on the day – one during the match, and a further three in the penalty shootout. Only Ismaila Sarr of Senegal managed to score past February.
SAFA Media sat down with Dolly before he dashed off to the airport.
Matlhomola Morake: Congratulations for qualifying for Rio 2016, how are you feeling?
Keagan Dolly: I am very happy, I think the boys fought well. It was a well-deserved victory. Congratulations must go to the technical team for leading us and of course the star of the match, goalkeeper Jody February for helping us qualify, and also to the rest of South Africa who stood behind us. We are just happy that we made them proud.
MM: Started the tournament with a loss, but ended it well. So it’s not how you start that matters, but how you finish …
KD: The boys showed character, they bounced back after a defeat in the first match, and they did the same after a loss in the semi-final, and they then showed their quality in the game against Senegal. We are just happy we qualified.
MM: It was tough out there against Senegal.
KD: It is always tough when you play against the hosts especially when they have the upper hand with them beating us in the first game and also because they are playing in front of their crowds, but the boys showed a lot more hunger than in the first game, they worked twice as hard and showed they wanted it more than Senegal. In the end we won the match.
MM: What a great performance by Jody – three saves in the shootout, and one in the match.
KD: That’s amazing hey and I hope it will help him when he goes back to his club Ajax Cape Town, hopefully he will get more game time.
MM: As for you, what was going on when you missed your penalty kick?
KD: I actually wanted to cry because I don’t know what I did, I missed and luckily Jody came to my rescue. The team was there for me and I had to show character because I am the captain. I am so happy that we won. All I need to do right now is to focus on the Telkom Knockout Final with my club, I am so excited because it’s my first final in my PSL career.
MM: How confident was the team in this match?
KD: With Senegal missing the penalty during the game we knew we had the upper hand, we knew they were under pressure especially because they are they hosts, they needed to qualify. The pressure wasn’t on us so we just played our normal game, we created opportunies but didn’t convert them. When they were awarded the penalty in the match, personally I, and I think everyone else did the same, thought it was over for us, but then Jody came to our rescue and it gave us the confidence to even work even harder. He saved us again during the shootout, so we are just grateful to have a player like him.
MM: Overall impression of the tournament?
KD: What has been working for us is the team effort, there wasn’t individual brilliance although there were moments when we showed we can have individual brilliance but most of the time we played as a team, worked hard towards a common goal, which was to qualify, and we are glad we have.
MM: What next now for the team?
KD: For now the boys need to celebrate the achievement because it was well deserved, and then we regroup in South Africa and prepare for the Olympics.
MM: You could get your second medal in just four days when your club plays in the Telkom Final.
KD: I am also quite excited about that one because last time I missed the Nedbank final but this time around I hope I get the chance to play and hopefully contribute to lifting another trophy for Mamelodi Sundowns and getting a gold medal.