Cape Town - Highveld Lions coach Geoffrey Toyana believes that starting the Momentum One-Day Cup Qualifier stronger against the Warriors in Johannesburg on Wednesday will go a long way towards deciding who will reach the final on Sunday.
The two sides clash at the Bidvest Wanderers Stadium with the Cape Cobras awaiting the winner at PPC Newlands.
The hosts will go into the game as the favourites due to home advantage and by virtue of ending the season in second position ahead of the visitors.
“It’s a vital game for both sides, but from our end everyone is in good spirit,” Toyana said. “Playing at home will be a big advantage for us.
“But I think it will all boil down to whoever starts the game better. That will go a long way towards deciding the outcome.”
The Warriors have had a disappointing season overall, but Toyana praised the work of young coach Malibongwe Maketa, saying they were dangerous opponents.
“I think Malibongwe has done a very good job there,” he added. “His partnership with Colin Ingram is fantastic and the past 12 months they’ve played some good one-day cricket.”
The Lions have some major injury worries ahead of the game with both Temba Bavuma (back) and Eddie Leie (hamstring) likely to miss out.
Hardus Viljoen faces a late fitness test, but Dwaine Pretorius is expected to return from injury.
The Warriors have even bigger injury concerns as skipper Ingram nurses back and knee problems. He is being monitored closely by their medical staff.
Clyde Fortuin (finger) is expected to be fit to take his place in the XI.
Coach of the Eastern Cape side Maketa, insisted there were no underdogs for the clash.
“To be honest, that (counting ourselves as underdogs) will be trying to hide,” he said. “I think it’s a 50-50 game.
“There’s no underdog, it’s all about going out there and executing your skills.
“I think our chances are pretty good. We’ve prepared well and played some good one-day cricket overall this season. I think the side that pitches up will get through.”