JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 11, Geoffrey Toyana during the Momemtum One Day Cup Pre-Final Function at Bidvest Wanderers Stadium on December 11, 2012 in Johannesburg, South Africa Photo by Duif du Toit / Gallo Images

Geoffrey Toyana remains optimistic that the Highveld Lions can “salvage something from this season”, explaining the events of the last fortnight have made him a tougher coach, who now understands his team even better.

The Lions, already struggling for form across all three formats this season, were hit by a storm last week when Alviro Petersen resigned as captain, citing “interference” from the convener of selectors Hussein Manack, something he failed to prove in a series of meetings with the Gauteng Cricket Board hierarchy.

Toyana found himself, “to some extent”, the meat in a Petersen and Manack sandwich, with team morale suffering as a result. “It was a very difficult time. For everyone,” Toyana said.

“Just from chatting with the CEO (Greg Fredericks) it’s important that we move on. We can still salvage something from this season. That’s what we spoke about after the game in East London.

“We just said to each other: ‘Imagine after all the s**t we’ve been through in the last week, we are able to get something out of this season?’ It would be amazing and that’s what we have to focus on now.

“We can still get into the playoffs of the RamSlam if we win our remaining five matches. That will be difficult to do, but that’s what we must focus on trying to do. And we are also second in the Sunfoil Series, so there’s another chance at a trophy.”

After a superb first season as coach last summer, Toyana has seen the flip side of life as a professional coach this season, but believes he’ll be better for the experience.

“You learn through the tough times and this type of stuff just makes you stronger. I think I’ll be a better coach for having gone through this experience, even though it’s been very difficult,” he said.

The Lions remain winless in the T20 Challenge following a dramatic tie against the Warriors in East London on Sunday. However, Toyana is keen to relay the positives of what has been a poor campaign.

“We could easily be sitting here and be on 12 points having won three out of five. We should have won the first game in Cape Town (against the Warriors), dominated for 36 overs in Potch (against the Titans) and then got so close in East London on Sunday (against the Warriors). If you look at it like that, we haven’t been too bad.”

Despite the upheaval he caused in the ranks with his allegations against Manack last week, Toyana stressed that Petersen remains an important part of the Lions side. “He’s been very, very good. He’s been helping Thami (Tsolekile), working well with the youngsters and still contributes a lot in our team meetings.

“Virey is still a valuable member of our team; he brings so much experience,” Toyana added.

There’s little respite for theLions who head to Durban tomorrow to face the Dolphins before returning to Gauteng for another trip to Potchefstroom to play the Knights. – The Star