Orlando Pirates coach Rhulani Mokwena has backed under-fire Thembinkosi Lorch, claiming he is still the reigning Footballer of the Season and has nothing to prove.
The Bafana Bafana star picked up the big award at the end of last season at the PSL Awards, but he has struggled to replicate the form that won him the coveted award.
The 26-year-old has only managed one goal and two assists in the Telkom Knockout Cup, but is yet to have any goal involvement in the league which thrusts his form, or lack thereof, into the spotlight.
His problems were further compounded as he was sent off in the first half of Pirates 3-2 victory over Polokwane City on Tuesday, and he will now miss the next two games through suspension.
However, Pirates coach Mokwena was quick to defend his star at the post-match media conference. insisting that Lorch is still the best player in the country.
‘Unfortunately, we forget that he’s still reigning [PSL] Footballer of the Season. He is the Footballer of the Season,’ said Mokwena.
‘And sometimes, I think we put undue pressure because of social media – some of the things that he reads also; the expectations are based more on that, but I always tell him, he’s still the best player in the country.
‘Who has the Footballer of the Season award at home? It’s Thembinkosi Lorch. So, he’s got nothing to prove to anybody.’
‘Nyoso’ has been found wanting in terms of his on-the-field discipline of late. There was his stamp on Khama Billiat during the TKO Soweto derby and now his recent red card for retaliating towards Puleng Tlolane – who was also sent off – last night.
‘I think some of the incidents are difficult to assess because I think, particularly today’s incident. As much as I say it is definitely a red card, it’s an unfortunate one because he was fouled and after that they kicked the ball towards him,’ Mokwena reflected.
‘With a little bit more emotional intelligence, he could have avoided the situation, but it’s a completely different one to the Chiefs one, so we can’t be too critical of ‘Nyoso’.
‘He’s still the best player in the country. If someone wants to argue with me, then we can argue because I talk stats; maybe the others [talk] opinion.
‘The reigning Footballer of the Season award is at Thembinkosi Lorch’s house, and he’s still the best player in the country.’
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