Nathi Lions coach Sammy Troughton is hoping that youthful exuberance will come out trumps in a KZN derby against Thanda Royal Zulu at the Princess Mogogo Stadium on Friday night at 7.30pm.
Lions are currently second on the Coastal Stream table – with eight points they are three adrift of pace-setters FC Cape Town, with whom they played out to a 1-1 draw against last weekend.
Coach Sammy Troughton, once part of the successful Tuks University set up, and also a former coach with Black Aces and Free State Stars, is the man in charge of maximising Lions’ chances of reaching the play-offs, a feat they achieved last season.
Now without the budget of a PSL side, or the might of an organization like the Pretoria University behind him, Troughton faces an altogether different challenge – and says that this season it will all be about consolidation.
“We’ve had a positive start to the season, but when I joined the club in pre-season, I basically had to build a new team.
“The squad is in the majority made up of players’ with no experience at this level – we only have three regulars left from last season and therefore I believe its about rebuilding this season and feel that a mid-table finish would be a good accomplishment.
“We have players here from the Vodacom (third tier) and Castle League (fourth tier), yet we have done well, based on the attitude and enthusiasm of the players; there is certainly a lot of raw talent in the KZN region,” said the former Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder.
He’s expecting no favours from a Thanda side on Friday night – the city rivals being just one point behind Lions on a tight log table.
“Its going to be a tough one. Thanda have had good form recently and have won a few of their most recent games. They also have a sponsor and therefore more money to spend on experienced players.
“For me it’s about building up the confidence of my own players and giving them the belief that they can win. I’m hoping our youthful exuberance will overcome their experience,” explained Troughton.
On paper ‘AmaBhubhesi’ will certainly be up against it – Thanda can boast of players such as former Orlando Pirates duo Edward Malinga (centre back) and Phumudzo Manenzhe (striker), as well as former Chiefs attacker Lucky Mzizi.
They have also acquired a string of players from the likes of Bloemfontein Celtic, Free State Stars and Black Aces, even raiding Lions themselves for some of their top stars, not least the free-scoring midfielder Chris Manoka.
For their part, the Lions squad does not reveal a single house-hold name, making their positive start to the campaign all the more remarkable.
Other NFD Coastal Stream action this weekend sees FC Cape Town in with a tough task to maintain their position at the summit – they are away to Bay United, the Westbourne Oval in PE on Saturday at 3.30pm playing host to this Eastern Cape versus Western Cape encounter.
Hanover Park host Blackburn Rovers at the Wynberg Military base in a bottom-of-the-table encounter, while Carara Kicks are away to African Wanderers at the Charles Mopeli Stadium in a Free State derby.
The rest of fixtures (inland stream” are:
Saturday, October 30:
Black Leopards v Dynamos (Tshifhulanani), FC AK v United (Eldorado Park)
Sunday, October 31: Batau FC v Jomo Cosmos (Mpumalanga Stadium) and Witbank Spurs v University of Pretoria (Puma Rugby Stadium). Kick-Off for all matches is 3.30pm, unless stated-Story by PSL website