MAMELODI Sundowns winger Keagan Dolly relishes the huge challenge of helping the South African Under-23 side qualify for next year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Owen Da Gama’s side started their preparations for the Under-23 African Cup of Nations in Senegal on a positive note by beating Tanzania’s senior national team 2-0 at Eldorado Park on Tuesday.
Da Gama has also arranged another friendly against a PSL side on Saturday, before he will finalise his 21-man squad ahead of their opening match against the host nation in Dakar on 28 November.
Said Dolly: “Tanzania are very physical side, they are tall and strong. But our mobility and sharpness came out, that’s why we managed to get the result. There are new players in camp and the coach is assessing them, and I think it will strengthen our team going into the tournament.”
The skilful player is aware it won’t be easy to become one of the three teams to qualify for the Olympics. They also face Zambia and Tunisia in Group A.
Said Dolly: “We know how African countries operate, they are very physical, like Tanzania. We won’t concentrate on how they play and what they do. We’ll focus on our strengths, play for ourselves and try to qualify.”
The 22-year-old insisted that playing on bumpy surfaces in Senegal would not disrupt their plan of booking their flight to Rio.
“Most of us grew up in places like this (Eldorado Park) and got used to playing on bumpy fields like this one. We also have some pitches in the National First Division that are not very good – some players in our team are used to them.
“This means we will be able to play our normal passing game in any circumstances.”
However, Dolly is aware that scoring goals will be vital if they are to follow in the footsteps of the generation that made Mzansi proud by beating Brazil 3-1 at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
“We have proved that we can score goals and hopefully we will get more in the tournament.
“I have to improve my scoring for the national team and ensure we qualify.”