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From yellow flat to yellow Kaizer Chiefs jersey ... Keagan Dolly was born Amakhosi

Keagan Dolly will be playing in his first Soweto Derby in the league. Picture: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Keagan Dolly will be playing in his first Soweto Derby in the league. Picture: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Published Nov 6, 2021

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Johannesburg - There will be no fans to complete the euphoria like he had imagined. But that Keagan Dolly will don the gold and black jersey of childhood club Kaizer Chiefs in the Soweto Derby against rivals Orlando Pirates will be a dream come true.

Growing up at his father’s house in Westbury, Dolly had no room to cut the family allegiance by choosing to support another club. Everyone in Ramon’s house was a sworn Chiefs supporter. Even their house painting proclaimed that lot.

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ALSO READ: Five areas that could decide the Soweto Derby between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates

“Growing up, we had a flat and half of it was painted yellow because we were Chiefs supporters. My dad would parade with me after a win against Pirates. So that was a culture at home,” Dolly said ahead of today's derby at FNB Stadium.

Dolly was lucky these parades happened after the game – live from the stadium. He got to witness the likes of Jabu Pule (who's now Mahlangu) send the supporters into a frenzy with his dazzling skills and knack for goal.

ALSO READ: 5 Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates players who will look to make an impact in first Soweto derby

“I was lucky to see the likes of Jabu Pule. When he was on the ball, you could hear the supporters’ whistle. That gave me the feeling of ‘I wanted to experience that’. I know it’s a big occasion, I need to be calm and do my best,” he said.

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“Luckily enough, I have the opportunity (to play in the Soweto derby) even though there’ll be no supporters. But I know, I have my family back at home that’s watching.”

Since returning to the country in July, after an unsuccessful four-year stint with French Ligue 1 side Montpellier, that is what Dolly appears to be doing - being calm and doing his best.

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He’s made seven contributions in Amakhosi's last 10 games. At first, though, Dolly’s return to the country was met with jeers from naysayers and the opposition.

ALSO READ: Akpeyi, Mpontshane in the spotlight as Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates meet in derby

They criticised how he's taken a downgrade in his career, while his weight gain had also resulted in his decline as a creative footballer.

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Dolly’s critics have eaten humble pie so far. He’s shed some kilos and has been so influential for Chiefs that he got a Bafana Bafana call-up for the FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Zimbabwe and Ghana this week after impressing Hugo Broos.

No doubt, it will be Dolly's aim to inspire Bafana to the playoffs of the qualifiers. But he’ll know a clinical performance against the Bucs will serve as a morale booster heading into back-to-back matches against Zimbabwe and Ghana.

The two Soweto giants head into today’s encounter having been a shadow of themselves when it comes to dominating local football – as Mamelodi Sundowns, Dolly’s former club, have been on a dominance spree for almost a decade.

Currently, Chiefs are enduring a six-year trophy drought. They are seventh on the standings, a position and two points behind Pirates. But Dolly, looking at the Chiefs’ squad and coaches, says they have what it takes to turn the tide this term.

“I think we have a few new players and a coach. It’s a process for us. But I think you could see in the games that we’ve set for ourselves – in terms of our game-plan – it worked. In other games, silly mistakes cost us though,” Dolly explained.

@mihlalibaleka

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