Darren Keet: Bafana is my goal

By Drum Digital
13 October 2010

IT WAS the biggest game of his life – his debut in Mzansi’s top soccer confederacy, the Premier Soccer League (PSL). He was only 19 and a fairly new kid on the Joburg block. Darren Keet was used to the more tranquil and laidback Cape Town lifestyle and the near-empty stadiums of lowly first division soccer there...

Now here he was, in the PSL, as goalkeeper, donning official Bidvest Wits colours for the first time, walking onto the pitch to an intimidating roar from fans of the Moroka Swallows players, dressed in their familiar red and white.But at the end of the 90 minutes his acrobatic saves earned him an unexpected clean sheet which shot Wits to a 1-0 win against a more fancied Swallows side. He was voted Man of the Match and with that he announced his arrival in the top ranks of South African soccer.

Darren (now 21) has been hailed by pundits as the future of goalkeeping in this country – and his talents have just seen him receive a call-up from coach Pitso Mosimane to the national team in their game against Sierra Leone.

It’s all thanks to hard work, the keeper tells us when we meet him at his cool two-bedroom pad in Sandton, Joburg. “If you work hard, things will fall into place,” he says.

Today, however, he’s having a rare day off, chilling on one of his soccer ball-style armchairs in shorts and sneakers and watching the Discovery Channel on his plasma TV.

“I don’t watch soccer on TV,” he informs us. Relaxing means getting away from it all and that includes taking a break from the game that dominates his life.

POPEYE, as he’s affectionately known (it’s a nickname that stems from babyhood when he said “pappai! pappai!” to everything he saw), has achieved a lot in only two seasons in the PSL.

In his first season he scooped the Bidvest Wits Young Player of the Year award after only starting in seven games for the Clever Boys. The next year he travelled to Egypt with the under-20 national team for the under- 20 Fifa World Cup. On his return he received a Bafana Bafana call-up from thencoach Joel Santana for a friendly against Madagascar. Two more call-ups followed, from former coach Carlos Alberto Parreira for the pre-World Cup friendlies against Japan and Jamaica – so clearly he’s not all that new to the Bafana setup.

“It’s great to be part of the national team and to be among a bunch of friendly players. Everyone is very professional at Bafana Bafana,” he says.

His blistering form recently has seen top Danish club Brondby IF come knocking on his door.

“The club came to South Africa for their off-season training in January this year and I was training with them. They asked me to come for trials. I only recently returned from there and they were keen on signing me, but by the end of the transfer window we had not reached an agreement,” he says. The club is, however, keeping their eyes on the skilful keeper.

Read the full story in DRUM of 21 October 2010

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