Highlands Park coach Owen Da Gama says the competitiveness of the Absa Premiership is what will separate the men from the boys in his young squad as they go in search of their first victory in top-flight football this season.
On Thursday night, at home, Highlands squandered a 2-0 lead in the dying minutes of the game and had to share the spoils with Black Leopards - a team that they took all six points from in the National First Division (NFD) last season.
“I was very disappointed with the leadership on the field," Da Gama said.
“We played football and coached at a high level, and we always knew with five minutes to go we would come together as a team and kill the game off.
“For me, there was a lot of poor leadership, on the day and on the field. But we won’t point fingers; we’ll take it as a team.
“We’ve rewarded most of our players from the NFD, and some of them will step up and some won’t."
The Lions of the North have yet to suffer a loss, having drawn their season-opener with Orlando Pirates 1-1, but they know every point counts in top-flight football especially if they are to avoid the one-season syndrome which caught up with them following their first promotion two seasons ago.
The draw with Pirates was a fortuiitous result for them, considering that they were playing away and also had zero shots on targets.
Da Gama reckons his side might have switched from that defensive mode to attack against Leopards and they unfortunately got the tactics wrong in referee’s additional time.
“For me, the main structure and organisation of the team was the problem," he explained.
“Maybe the mind shifted from defending well against Pirates to us trying to get as many shots on goals. So, maybe that adjustment was a little too big.’’
The 56-year-old coach also confirmed that the team is looking to add at least three more signings before the closure of the transfer window later this month.
This will be an addition to the 12 players they’ve secured in the pre-season, which includes experienced campaigner Bevan Fransman.
Da Gama did mention though that their new additions will be of quality, but unfortunately Lebohang “Cheeseboy” Mokoena, who’s been on trial with the club, won’t be part of that set-up as they feel his position is already covered.
“We thought against signing Mokoena because we really feel we should reinforce the defence, midfield and upfront," Da Gama said.
“But yes, there are definitely some opportunities for us (in the market). And we are certainly going to be strengthening the spine of the team but we had to start somewhere.
“We are definitely strengthening the team with really top players, you can believe me."