Geoffrey Toyana wants to hit the ground running when his side kickstarts their domestic season against the Cape Cobras on Wednesday.
The Highveld Lions begin their 2016/17 Sunfoil Series season against the Cape Cobras at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg and after losing out to the Titans last season, are looking to get some early points as they try and retain the title they won the season before last.
‘We want to start the season well because it always sets the tone for what’s to come,’ Toyana said. ‘The first game at the beautiful Wanderers and under blue skies, it should be a cracker.’
Young all-rounder Wiaan Mulder, the star of the amateur circuit last season and South Africa’s Under-19 captain, is likely to make his debut, while another new face expected to feature is Mangaliso Mosehle.
Big new signing Reeza Hendricks is not yet fit, while Ayavuya Myoli is also nursing an injury.
Opponents, the Cobras, did not have the best of season’s last year as they failed to win any silverware, but Toyana knows they will be formidable opponents.
‘The Cobras have been a really quality side over the past number of years,’ he added. ‘They’re always up there and we’ve always had tough battles against them.’
Unlike some of the other teams, the Cape Town side has not made any household signings and have turned to their youth structures to try and rectify the wrongs of last year.
Young duo Jason Smith and Zubayr Hamza, who have been tipped by many as future stars, will both feature for the Cobras from the start.
‘Both are exciting players, so we look forward to see what they can bring,’ coach Paul Adams said.
The Cobras will also feature three of their Proteas stars for the first game as Vernon Philander, Stiaan van Zyl and Dane Piedt will all play while Justin Ontong is ruled out due to injury.
‘It’s always exciting when you start a new season,’ Adams added. ‘We’ve been cramped up a little bit in Cape Town due to the weather, so we’re excited to get outside now.’
The Lions squad: Stephen Cook (capt), Rassie van der Dussen, Dominic Hendricks, Temba Bavuma, Yassar Cook, Wiaan Mulder, Mangaliso Mosehle, Bjorn Fortuin, Hardus Viljoen, Nono Pongolo, Sean Jamison, Devon Conway, Matt McGillivray.
The Cobras squad: Omphile Ramela (capt), Andrew Puttick, Keeagan Petersen, Jason Smith, Zubayr Hamza, Stiaan van Zyl, Dane Vilas, Aviwe Mgijima, Beuran Hendricks, Dane Paterson, Vernon Philander, Dane Piedt, Tshepo Moreki.
Head to Head – Highveld Lions v Cape Cobras
Matches Played: 24
Lions Win: 06
Cobras Win: 09