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Cape Town City keen on a hat-trick of clean sheets against Mamelodi Sundowns, Peter Shalulile

Mamelodi Sundowns striker Peter Shalulile was in red-hot scoring form last season. Picture: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Mamelodi Sundowns striker Peter Shalulile was in red-hot scoring form last season. Picture: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Published Aug 4, 2022


Cape Town - Taariq Fielies admits Mamelodi Sundowns’ ace sharpshooter Peter Shalulile “is an absolute beast”, but the Cape Town City central defender is confident they can keep the champions at bay in Friday's DStv Premiership season opener at DHL Stadium (7:30pm kick-off).

Sundowns were at their free-scoring best last season with Shalulile regularly the focus point of Masandawana's attack. The Namibian hit-man was in red-hot form, bulging the net 23 times, to comfortably walk away with the Lesley Manyathela Golden Boot award and also PSL Player of the Year award.

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Ironically, none of those goals were scored against the Citizens though, with Shalulile and the rest of his Sundowns teammates firing blanks in two goalless draws last season.

This was testament to City's superb defensive unit, with Fielies, in particular, marshalling the troops superbly. The Bafana Bafana defender believes it's his team’s organisation and structure that allows them to regularly produce shutouts - even against the most potent of attacking units.

“We managed to keep a few clean sheets last season against most of the teams in the league and, of course, defending starts upfront with our attackers and as a unit we just managed to be very solid,” Fielies said.

“But for the past seven to eight seasons Sundowns have been the most successful team, and obviously that comes with consistency, so of course it's difficult to defend against such a team with quality all over the park.”

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Although Fielies' partner in the heart of the City defence, Congolese international Nathan Fasika, is of the highest quality, City coach Eric Tinkler will most likely task his most experienced hard man with staying close to Shalulile on Friday evening.

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Having had a recent outing with Bafana Bafana where he needed to mark Morocco superstars Tarik Tissoudali and Youssef En-Nesyri in an emotionally-charged Africa Nations Cup qualifier in Rabat, Fielies believes he will be up to the task.

“You’ve got to keep an eye on Shalulile because he can create something from nothing and is an absolute beast in his work rate,” he said.

“But you can’t single out any player from Sundowns because they have quality in all departments. We are always up for any battle.”

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Fielies will also have the impressive Hugo Marques providing support from the goal area. With former Bafana goalkeeper Darren Keet having now fully recovered from the long-term injury that restricted him to just a single appearance since joining City at the beginning of last season there was speculation that the 32-year-old may replace Hugo as City’s goalkeeper.

However, City have repaid the Angolan international shot-stopper for his excellent debut season, that saw him win the PSL Goalkeeper of the Year award, with a one-year contract extension.

Hugo will therefore remain the Citizens’ No 1, which will provide continuity at the back, especially after last season’s impressive 13 clean sheets.

“It is a real bonus that we have a quality experienced goalkeeper in Hugo Marques as our last line of defence. That is key to that so we rely on our whole team to come to the party,” Fielies said.