JOHANNESBURG – Fresh from being announced as the winner of February’s Absa Premiership Player of the Month award, Orlando Pirates’ Thembinkosi Lorch was thrown a curve ball by Mamelodi Sundowns’ coach Pitso Mosimane, who took home the Coach of the Month accolade.
'Jingles' cornered Lorch into admitting the Buccaneers, who top the log, are also fighting for the title this season. Mosimane reminded Lorch of the club’s stance last season where the Buccaneers downplayed their chances in the league race - a ploy they used well to not enter into a battle of words with Mosimane.
Lorch brilliantly dealt with the curveball he was thrown and passed the challenge right back at the Brazilians.
“This season, I would like to win the league,” the soft-spoken Lorch responded to Mosimane’s question at PSL headquarters.
There was no chest-thumping and loud proclamations from Lorch, just a simple desire from a player who has tasted hard times at the Buccaneers. Lorch has had a good season for Pirates, to a point where he is mentioned among the contenders for the Footballer of the Season crown.
But individual awards will mean nothing to him without the big one - the Absa Premiership. There’s also the bigger one, the CAF Champions League where Pirates and Sundowns are representing South Africa.
Pirates host Zimbabwe’s FC Platinum tomorrow at Orlando Stadium in their second last match of the group stage. They need maximum points to ensure they’re in the top two bracket so as to earn a place in the quarterfinals. They currently sit in third place - three points behind leaders Esperance and two behind Horoya who they visit in their last game.
Six points in their remaining matches would take them to the knockout stage. To do that, they will need Lorch to continue his rich vein of form.
“The difference is that last season I started very slow because of the injury,” Lorch said. “But in the second round, that’s when I got the momentum and it was already late into the season.
We have good coaches in our technical team and our analysts (who are helping me to reach this level). They make the game simple for us because we know a lot about our opponents' strengths and weaknesses.”
The Zimbabweans will look to frustrate the Buccaneers like they did in their home leg that ended goalless. The Buccaneers will have to take the initiative as they desperately need the win while Platinum are now just honouring their fixtures as they cannot progress to the quarterfinals.
Lorch will lead the attack once again, buoyed by the individual prize he received after beating strong competition from Lebohang Maboe, Thamsanqa Mkhize and Gladwin Shitolo.
“I would like to thank my teammates for pushing me, and my coaches for making me a better player,” Lorch said. “I was excited when I got the message that I was named the Player of the Month.
I got the message after the game against (Bloemfontein) Celtic. I was excited at receiving the award but I was disappointed because we drew against Celtic. I am happy and humbled by this award.”