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Dolly holds his own in battle of No 10s

2016-08-05 16:10
Gabriel and Keagan Dolly (Getty)

Rio de Janeiro - The night was supposed to be all about Neymar as he captained Brazil in their opening Olympic clash against South Africa on Thursday, but it didn't quite work out for the Barcelona superstar. 

In the end the sides settled for a 0-0 draw, despite the Brazilian skipper testing Itumeleng Khune with countless efforts. 

The Bafana shot-stopper was up to the challenge, putting in one of his finest performances in national colours yet, but there was another South African who emerged from the clash with his reputation well and truly enhanced. 

Like Neymar, Keagan Dolly captained his side and, like Neymar, he wore the No 10 jersey.

The Mamelodi Sundowns lynchpin was in fine form, particularly in the first half, as he used his pace and skill to test the Brazilian defence when South Africa countered. 

When Mothobi Mvala was sent off on the hour mark, South Africa did less attacking and Dolly disappeared somewhat as Owen Da Gama's men held on for a valuable draw. 

Still, Brazilian locals were curious about who South Africa's No 10 was. 

The draw has left South Africa in a strong position to progress to the quarter-finals of the tournament with fixtures against Denmark and Iraq remaining. 

Those two sides also played to a 0-0 draw on Thursday, leaving the group wide open. 

"We are very happy, we played and defended so well against Brazil, a team that we admired, that had influenced so much in South African football," Dolly said after the match.

"We were playing against Neymar, Gabriel Jesus, Rafael Alcantara ... no one gave us a chance, but we did well."

Dolly said it was important to stay grounded despite this being a massive result for the South African football community.

"We have to be only focused on the next match. We shouldn't feel overexcited. This match is over," he said.

"We don't have to think that we have made it. Coming back to the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, our team beat Brazil at the first round and they ended up not qualifying."

South Africa take on Denmark on Sunday.

Lloyd Burnard is Sport24's correspondent in Rio de Janeiro for the duration of the 2016 Olympics ...

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