New coach helped settle Dolly

South Africa’s Keagan Dolly is manhandled during their international friendly against Guinea-Bissau at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban at the weekend. Picture: Gallo Images
South Africa’s Keagan Dolly is manhandled during their international friendly against Guinea-Bissau at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban at the weekend. Picture: Gallo Images

Bafana attacker hopes to inspire youngsters to play in Europe

THE change of coach as he arrived‚ which might have resulted in uncertainty‚ actually helped speed the process for Keagan Dolly of breaking into the first team at Montpellier‚ the Bafana Bafana attacker has said.

Dolly returned to South Africa for the first time last week since his transfer in late January from Mamelodi Sundowns to Ligue 1 to earn himself a man-of-the-match award in Bafana’s 3-1 friendly win against Guinea-Bissau in Durban on Saturday.

He came off the bench in Tuesday night’s second match against Angola in East London but could not help South Africa to any more than a 0-0 draw.

Dolly’s first two months in France have gone well for the player personally‚ even though Montpellier’s fortunes have not improved since Jean Louis Gasset replaced Frederic Hantz as coach days after the Bafana player signed.

Dolly has played seven matches – four starting and three as a substitute – out of the eight played by his club since his arrival.

Montpellier won two of the games Dolly featured in‚ drew two and lost four‚ as the small club continue to hover just above the relegation zone in 15th place in the 20-team league.

“It’s a very small city‚ it’s a very small team, and we haven’t been doing quite well‚” Dolly said.

“When the new coach came in he gave everybody an opportunity to prove themselves.

“And I think that helped me a lot. He could watch everyone at the same time.

“And I just told myself that I’m not that old‚ but nothing’s going to be easy. “It’s just the mentality. “When I went there I told myself that I needed to work hard and forget about South Africa‚ and just try to prove myself and represent myself well.”

Hantz’s sacking came after reported tensions with Montpellier’s eccentric 74-year-old chairman since 1974‚ Louis Nicollin.

The coach’s inventive utilisation of Montpellier’s scant resources and attractive football had pleased their fans but Nicollin felt his team needed to be more consistent.

He appointed Gasset‚ a former France and Paris-St-Germain assistant coach who had played his entire career as a midfielder with Montpellier.

Dolly said his experiences playing for Bafana‚ at last year’s Rio Olympics with the South Africa U23s‚ and with Sundowns winning the Caf Champions League and participating at the Fifa Club World Cup last year‚ also helped smooth his transition to Europe.

“The competition when we play international games is very high‚” he said.

“Fortunately for me‚ I’ve played in the Club World Cup and the Olympics and I got a taste of what it’s like playing international football.

“And I think for me it’s just been to go to Europe and try to prove to the other youngsters in the country [South Africa] that it’s possible – and just to inspire them,” Dolly said.

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