It’s particularly appropriate that Cape Town City’s return to form in a 3-0 victory over AmaZulu at the weekend coincided with the return of central defender Taariq Fielies to the starting team.
It’s an indication of just how valuable the 26-year-old has become for City since being given his opportunity by coach Benni McCarthy last year.
Fielies, a graduate of the Ajax Cape Town academy, had been campaigning for Milano United in the NFD before arriving at City. McCarthy took one look at the robust, uncompromising defender at training, and was immediately impressed with his attitude.
And Fielies has made such an impact at City that club boss John Comitis handed the player a new, improved five-year contract two months ago.
Fielies is important to the team not just for his aggression at the back, but also for his calm, unruffled demeanour. He is comfortable on the ball and able to initiate attacking moves from his position in the centre of defence.
Because of his combative approach, however, he invariably falls foul of referees. He was sent off in City’s recent defeat to Kaizer Chiefs – and the team struggled in his absence.
He was back for the AmaZulu game at the weekend, however, and made an immediate contribution by netting City’s first goal.
“You know, in my position, I’m the last man in defence,” said Fielies.
“So, if it means I have to take one for the team, then I’ll do it. I have done it on many occasions, and that’s why I’ll always pick up many yellow cards.
“As a defender, I have to be the hard man, I have to be difficult to beat, which is why I always try to protect my goalkeeper as much as I can.”
Fielies’ career has come a long way in the space of just 15 months.
Not only has he become an influential player for City, but he was also exposed to the national set-up as a member of Bafana Bafana’s Cosafa Cup squad in May earlier this year.
He’s keeping his feet firmly on the ground, though, and is just focusing on being as consistent as he can.
“At City, I feel the whole squad that we have is important,” he said.
“So, it makes me feel good knowing that people are seeing me as an important figure in the team. I really appreciate that.
“As for Bafana, it was a great experience to be a part of the Cosafa squad. And, definitely, any player would always want to represent his country.
“But it doesn’t matter how ambitious a player is, it comes down to the head coach of a national team to select a squad that he believes will do the country proud.
“So, for now, I’m just focusing on working hard for my club, and then to let whatever happens in the future happen.”
City are now preparing for their next PSL fixture – against Black Leopards at Cape Town Stadium next Sunday. And for Fielies, it’s a case of City building on the good work they produced against AmaZulu at the weekend.
“We knew we had to win the game against AmaZulu because we know we are a good quality team that doesn’t deserve to be towards the bottom of the log,” Fielies said.
“But we are not getting carried away after just one win.
“We are going to build on that result and take it game by game, because we know where we want to be.”