Bafana Bafana midfielder Keagan Dolly looks set to play a role against Egypt in the 22st Edition of the Nelson Mandela Challenge tonight (6 September) at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto.
Dolly missed last week’s (Friday, 2 September 2016) encounter against Mauritania in the final round of the 2017 Gabon African Cup of Nations qualifiers, which ended in a 1-1 draw at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.
The Mamelodi Sundowns winger seems to have recovered from his injury as he managed to finish two grueling training sessions with his compatriots on Sunday (4 August) and Monday (5 August).
He had missed all training sessions in Nelspruit.
Dolly’s return to Bafana Bafana is a welcome boost as he scored two goals in the penultimate AFCON qualifier against Gambia in June this year.
But he knows they are facing a very tough customer in Egypt, who are ranked 43rd in the world and 5th on the continent while South Africa is 64th and 13th respectively.
“We know it’s going to be tough, they are a very good team. They have good individuals playing at the highest level and after our draw against Mauritania on Friday we want to impress our home supporters because we haven’t been doing so well at home. With all the chances we created in that game, which we controlled, we just want to convert them against Egypt and win the match,” said Dolly.
The two nations will be meeting for the third time in this annual event. They first clashed in 1998 in the 5th edition, which South Africa won 2-1.
In the second encounter, however, The Pharaohs of Egypt turned the tables and won 1-0 in the 12th edition played in England in 2006.
Dolly says they have taken some positives from the Mauritania draw.
“One thing we need to improve on is our form at home, especially converting our chances – the very same thing we struggled with in Brazil with the u23 National Team at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. We created more chances than Denmark but did not take them. They scored the only goal and we did not qualify,” added Dolly.
“That’s the problem we have in the country as a whole, and if we can look at the top goal scorer each season it’s like 14 goals – that’s something we need to work on in South Africa. We create chances, we have good build-ups, we keep the ball well but when we get into the final third we tend to rush. We just need to be composed and make the proper pass and that will help us going forward. I struggle from the same thing, we tend to get excited, but if we work on it we stand a good chance going into the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.”
Dolly believes they will turn things around.
“The technical staff believed in us and that is why they called us up, I don’t think they need to take the blame because we are the ones playing on the field, we are the ones not converting our chances. Hopefully things will change,” concluded Dolly.
The Nelson Mandela Challenge is a one-day event to raise funds for the building of a children’s hospital to continue with the legacy of the late State President of South Africa, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.
South Africa has won the Nelson Mandela Challenge nine times and has hosted nations like the USA, Brazil, Argentina, Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon and Zambia.
The clash against Egypt kicks off at 19h05.
Source: South African Football Association.