|Keagan Dolly © Backpagepix
In the supremely gifted Keagan Dolly, Ajax Cape Town appear to unleashed a talent who has all the makings of a top class player.
Dolly’s first appearance for the Urban Warriors arrived just over a month ago, when the youngster was thrown straight into the deep end as he started the pre-season friendly game against Manchester United.
Rather than shrinking in the presence of players such as Paul Scholes, Rio Ferdinand and Dimitar Berbatov, the 19-year-old shone on the night with a highly polished performance.
Dolly subsequently made his Absa Premiership debut when he came on as a substitute for the last 20 minutes of Ajax’s loss to Moroka Swallows.
Then last Friday he made his first start in the league as Ajax hosted Platinum Stars at the Cape Town Stadium.
And Dolly didn’t disappoint, netting the opening goal after just eight minutes with a composed finish into the bottom corner from 16-yards out, paving the way for a 4-1 win and Ajax’s first victory of the season.
His overall game was superb, and was punctuated by a beautiful left foot which sprayed an array of crisp passes all over the field from the playmaking position.
Added to that was excellent technique, a superb first touch, and above all else, the willingness of the player to move into space and get on the ball; he appeared to show absolutely no nerves, rather a determination to run the game that belied his youth and inexperience.
“Keagan is a real talent,” Ajax coach Maarten Stekelenburg told PSL.co.za. “When you see Keagan playing, then you can see how important a good technique is. He’s so comfortable on the ball. He is making himself free in one touch and because of his good technique, he has a lot of time to look around, to see where are spaces.”
The player hails from the same suburb – Westbury - as Bafana Bafana, Everton and former Ajax Cape Town midfielder maestro Steven Pienaar, and both played for amateur side Westbury Arsenal. And like Pienaar, Dolly also attended the School of Excellence, finding his way to the Urban Warriors via Mamelodi Sundowns.
Comparisons will no doubt be made, even though the two players have a very different style, and expectations will soon be heaped on Dolly’s shoulders if he continues to shine.
This is where the mentorship of Stekelenburg, and the professional set-up at the Cape side will come into play as the club looks to keep the player grounded.
The former Ajax Amsterdam youth coach is thrilled to have such a wonderful talent on his hands, but knows that there it will not all be plain sailing.
“The type of game we are playing also helps. If you put him in a team where you are playing kick and charge for the second ball, then Keagan Dolly, then you don’t need him.
“I think he’s also fitting in our style of football, it suits him, with players around him that also play that quick game – so I think he’s finding his home. I know with these young players that it can be up and down, and against Stars, it was up. But he will have moments this season when I’m sitting here and not happy.
“We hope he can be consistent as possible and we will work very hard for that. But with young players, that is what experience is about. With young payers, one day they can be fantastic, and another day not, and that is where we need to work with them and we are prepared to do that.”