Thembinkosi Lorch: Jumping Ship

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  • Post published:March 25, 2024

Mamelodi Sundowns pulled off one of the shock moves in many a season when they signed Thembinkosi Lorch from Orlando Pirates in January, writes Mazola Molefe.

What looked to be a quiet shift at the Premier Soccer League offices for new registrations on transfer deadline day ended up with one of the biggest ever moves between local rivals in January.

Thembinkosi Lorch left Orlando Pirates to join Mamelodi Sundowns, with the video of his unveiling showing signs of just how late the deal was concluded – the attacker needed plenty of lights to dress up for the evening shoot.

Reports had suggested Lorch was in the final six months of his contract with the Buccaneers, although this was always speculation given his club had never officially announced the length of his term.

It also emerged that Pirates were prepared to offer Lorch a new deal to keep him on board for much longer, so the surprise announcement means that he either turned it down or it was retracted when it became clear he was contemplating joining Sundowns.

The interest in Lorch was nothing new: the Brazilians had been sniffing around in January 2023 as well.

However, getting Lorch’s transfer over the line was always going to be complex, with the player probably still tied to Pirates for much longer if the information around his contract terms is indeed accurate.

Speaking for the first time about Lorch’s arrival at Chloorkop, coach Rulani Mokwena elaborated on the star signing.

“It’s difficult to just speak about him without thanking Orlando Pirates for the investment. He is an incredible footballer because of his background and that is eight or nine years at Pirates,” he told Radio 2000.

“This is why it had to be done right. There’s a very strong and working understanding between the two clubs. I think even from Pirates’ side to even engage with Sundowns and listen to our desire to recruit Lorch needs to be commended. Both teams were humble and respectful – from the highest authorities at both clubs.”

What does a player of Lorch’s quality bring to an already star-studded ’Downs side dominating the domestic league, and maybe even the continent, as seen in their African Football League triumph?

“I don’t have to speak for Lorch; everybody knows his capacity. I know personally [what he can do] because
I worked with him during a season where he was the Footballer of the Year. There is the ‘Nyoso’ that I know and maybe if he was at that level, he should have been playing at his second Afcon with the quality that he has. Now the challenge is to help him get to this best again, like every other coach who has the same responsibility at every club,” Mokwena expanded.

He expects to see the 30-year-old flourish at Sundowns.

“I have this responsibility for all my players – that is what happens when you work as a coach. The most important is for me get them to be better and fuller versions of themselves. If we don’t, we have seen how this country loses some of the best players. There’s nothing I can say that people don’t already know.”

Photo by Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix