He used to play NFD football a few years ago, but his rise to the Bafana Bafana squad hasn’t come as a surprise to Orlando Pirates star Thembinkosi Lorch.
Coach Stuart Baxter called on Lorch this week following an injury to club mate Vincent Pule, and the Buccaneers man hopes to get an opportunity in Saturday’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Seychelles at the FNB Stadium (3pm kickoff).
To get to this point, though, was a long and arduous journey from being sent on loan to NFD club Cape Town All Stars when joining Pirates in 2015.
“That whole process played a massive part in transforming me into a player that I am today,” Lorch said in an interview with the SA Football Association website on Thursday.
“I had to be patient while at the same time continued working hard to increase my fitness levels, and it was not easy. I am looking at ways to continue getting better.
“(Pirates) Assistant coach Rhulani Mokoena is one individual I always speak to on and off the pitch. He always reminds me to continue believing in myself and to work hard.”
Lorch has done the hard yards off the pitch, and was expecting some reward for it. “Mr (Floyd) Mbele (Pirates team manager) called me on Tuesday morning and said that I would not be training with the team this week as coach (Stuart) Baxter wanted me in the Bafana Bafana camp. I just dropped everything and made my way there,” Lorch said.
“I was not surprised by the call-up though. In fact, I was expecting it. I knew that it would come one day and my instincts told me it was around the corner.
“I have been working really hard and I am glad my work has been rewarded.”
Baxter will hope that Bafana can get back to winning ways after a goalless draw in their last qualifier against Libya, and Lorch understands the importance of a victory ahead of the return leg in Seychelles next Tuesday.
“Home games are always crucial. This is where we have to make sure that we collect maximum points. That will help ease the pressure when we go to play against them in their own backyard,” he said.
“On the other hand, it is also crucial not to think too far ahead of ourselves. Our focus should be channelled on our scheduled match on Saturday. We will worry about the second leg when we travel there.”
Some action shots from the Bafana Bafana practice match against Supersport United at Megawatt Park on Wednesday.
Bafana Bafana beat United 1-0 through a Lebo Mothiba sweet strike in the first half pic.twitter.com/do6NZ0GEWd