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Fielies Unlucky Not To Be Part Of AFCON Squad – Martin

AmaZulu coach Pablo Franco Martin feels his defender Taariq Fielies was unlucky not to form part of the Bafana Bafana squad that is going to the Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast in the coming weeks.  

Fielies has been a warrior for Usuthu since his shock move from Cape Town City after this season had started. 

He has fitted in like a glove at the back, but Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos opted for Siyanda Xulu, Nkosinathi Sibisi and Mothobi Mvala as his central defender options.  

Xulu has not seen much action with SuperSport United of late, with coach Gavin Hunt opting for Ime Okon and Bilal Baloyi.  

Fielies was named in the 50-man preliminary squad, but the former Cameroon coach did not include him in his final squad due to a lack of experience at the international level.  

Many thought Broos might add Fielies, Siyabonga Ngezana or Keanu Cupido to his options after Xulu and Sibisi were run ragged in the FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Rwanda in November.  

Both struggled to adjust to the waterlogged artificial pitch and committed mistakes that led to goals, which saw Rwanda shock the continent to win 2-0 and top the group.

Xulu, as SuperSport were defeated 3-1 by Richards Bay at King Zwelithini Stadium on Saturday, also didn’t look great when he misjudged the flight of the ball, allowing Somila Ntsundwana to steal ahead and knock the ball past Ricardo Goss, who is part of the Bafana Bafana squad.  

Fielies, despite Usuthu huffing and puffing at times this season, has been solid and Martin would’ve loved to see him in the final squad.

“I think not only Tarra, but I also think 13 or 14 players of our team are unlucky,” said the coach, who will also lose Riaan Hanamub to Namibia. 

Martin also pointed out that the difference between his side and players from Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns, who have more representation in the AFCON squad, hasn’t been as big.   

“When you see the squad – Sundowns and Pirates players are the ones who are completing the list mostly and when we played against them, we showed that we were not inferior,” he added.  

“I understand that they are huge players, don’t misunderstand me, I don’t want to underestimate them, top players, big players. I would love to coach them as well.  

“But I also value the capacity of my players. When my players are playing these big stars, they are performing, they are competing and getting good results against them.”  

Goalkeeper Veli Mothwa, who has seen little action with Usuthu, is going to the AFCON with Bafana.  

The last time Fielies formed part of the Bafana squad was the first game of the AFCON qualifiers against Morocco in June 2022, where they lost 2-1 but recovered to qualify for next month’s tournament. 

Bafana, in Group E, will open the competition against Mali on 16 January. They will then face neighbors Namibia on 21 January before completing the group against Tunisia, who they defeated to win the sole AFCON trophy in 1996, four days later.  

Robin-Duke Madlala
Robin-Duke Madlala
Robin-Duke Madlala is iDiski Times' former KwaZulu-Natal-based web journalist. Boasting extensive experience in the South African football landscape, Robin-Duke has previously worked for Kick-Off Magazine, Soccer Laduma, and Daily Sun and Sunday Sun. He specialises in breaking news and transfers around South Africa’s big clubs in KZN. Robin-Duke has left iDiski Times.