Taariq Fielies has become one of the best players in the Cape Town City team and will be hoping that continues in the MTN8. Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix
 Cape Town City central defender Taariq Fielies, cannot help but pinch himself when he reflects on how drastically  and dramatically 
 his career has evolved in the space of just 15 months.

Now, as City prepare to face Mamelodi Sundowns in an MTN8 semi-final second-leg fixture in Atteridgeville today (3pm kick-off), Fielies is among the first names on coach Benni McCarthy’s team sheet.

City won the first leg 1-0 at the Cape Town Stadium last week.

Rewind to June last year, and it was all rather different for Fielies. At the time, he was still at National First Division Milano United, the club he joined after being released by Ajax Cape Town in 2013.

But he’s a tough character and he understands adversity.

Signed by City in July last year as cover in defence, Fielies was given an opportunity by McCarthy early on in the season and he never looked back.

A little more than a year later, Fielies’ career has rocketed. Not only has he become a mainstay in the City defence, but his performances also alerted the national selectors, hence he made his Bafana Bafana debut at the Cosafa Cup tournament in May.

Aggressive and uncompromising in the tackle and with great aerial ability, Fielies has the advantage of also being comfortable on the ball.

But not just that, he’s just as adept in the opposition penalty area, which is why McCarthy always sends the defender forward when a goal is needed.

Last week, in the first leg against Sundowns, it was Fielies who popped up in the box to net City’s winning goal.

The defender’s strike could well prove to be the difference as the Cape side prepare to enter what should be a cacophony of noise when the faithful Sundowns supporters flock to Atteridgeville to galvanise their team to overturn the one-goal deficit from the first leg.

Fielies has no doubt that City are in for a stern challenge indeed, especially with Sundowns struggling a bit of late.

The champion Pretoria side are due for a change in form and fortune and they will be looking to bounce back against the Citizens.

“It will be a very tough encounter,” said Fielies.

“Sundowns have just been knocked out of the CAF Champions League, and they also haven’t scored a goal in their last four games.

“So, obviously, they are going to come out all guns blazing, using their strongest team to make sure they don’t get knocked out of another cup competition. But we are not focused on them, or their problems. We are only focused on our own game.”

With a one-goal advantage, City don’t have to risk too much.

It’s up to Sundowns to throw caution to the wind in order to gain parity, but Fielies is also aware that, because of this, City can’t just sit back and keep things tight.

They have to find the right balance between defence and attack, and between caution and abandon.

“I think the goal puts us in a good position going into the second leg,” he said.

“So we just need to keep our discipline and try our best to finish the job  and, hopefully, we can get to the final.”


Weekend Argus

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