He is arguably the current Orlando Pirates squad’s Most Valuable Player (MVP), but he’s hardly seen! He was the 2018/19 Footballer of the Season, but he’s not been the same player since that wonderful campaign. He’s been on the up as the best player in the country and also experienced the low of not featuring at all.
I am talking about one Thembinkosi 'Nyoso' Lorch, the Orlando Pirates attacking midfielder who joined the team from Maluti FET College FC before making a name for himself in the Buccaneers’ jersey and subsequently earning a spot in the Bafana Bafana team. We have not seen Lorch in action since February when he limped off the field in the 1-1 draw against SuperSport United. Apart from fielding questions from the media before and after games, coach Josef Zinnbauer has been the only one sharing light – or trying to – on the player’s injury update. Trying, he has been, but it is safe to say he hasn’t been anywhere near convincing with his ‘updates’, with the latest one not too different from the previous one. In his post-match interview after losing 3-0 to Mamelodi Sundowns, their third loss against the Chloorkop-based side far this season, Zinnbauer said about Lorch, “(Thembinkosi) Lorch, I think he can start training with the team tomorrow or on Tuesday. I hope we get a test in the morning and then he comes back to us. Hopefully, he’s available for us in the next game or in the next games, we need the player.” Can you believe that we are talking about an injury that took place on February 24, after just 28 minutes into the game! Are you telling me the coach isn’t sure how long before his player can join the team for training? Really?
People talk and when there are such grey areas as coach Zinnbauer’s comments, they give rise to people looking even further than they’re led to believe. Word on the street has it that Lorch has officially handed in a transfer request from the Bucs camp, to pursue a career abroad. After his stellar season, Lorch was said to have attracted a lot of interest from teams in Belgium, among others, and the news of his transfer request further prove that the interest has not gone away. Pirates were not willing to let him go until there was a good enough offer on the table, according to media reports. There was also a rumour that a number of Pirates players were on the radar of a number of European teams and that the chairman’s phone was ringing off the hook with potential suitors for his players. The rumour mill has it that the club put the challenge back to the players by putting certain demands before they are allowed to pursue their careers abroad. One such demand, we are told, was for a piece of silverware and placing the team in a good position to fight for the league title in January that season but, unfortunately, none of those demands were met and therefore no further engagement took place on the matter, according to those who claim to be in the know.
To say Lorch hasn’t been the same since that overseas move failed would be an understatement. The failed move definitely took its toll on him and you needed to look no further than his performances to see that his mind and heart were in two places! It is, after all, every local player’s dream to seem themselves plying their trade overseas, especially on the back of being the best player of the season. It happened with Thulani Serero, Percy Tau and a number of others, but it is not always the case. When a move abroad doesn’t happen, relations don’t have to turn sour between the player and the team. It doesn’t have to get to a point where there’s complete silence on the player in question. You can’t tell me Themba Zwane didn’t want to go further his career overseas this season, after standing head and shoulders above his peers last season, but when the move didn’t happen, he continued from where he’d left off and is now a contender for the same individual awards he won last season. Why couldn’t the same thing happen with Lorch? As I said, he hasn’t been the same player since a move abroad failed, but life and his career has to go on.
Players talk whenever they meet, especially in national team camps, and that’s when a lot of information and experience gets shared. That’s when a number of local players get their overseas ambitions re-ignited and when these moves don’t materialise and there’s complete silence, a lot of things are left to people’s interpretation. People will always see and interpret the way they see things, unfortunately. Whether they are right or wrong is secondary. Right now, there’s an ongoing rumour that Lorch may have agreed, in principle, on a move to a local team. When such rumours surface, it does one thing to the supporter. They don’t care about the contractual status of the player concerned, they won’t even bother to check how long does the player still have on his contract with his club. All they will worry about is the possibility of losing one of their own. So such rumours turn the supporters against the said player and that leads to unwarranted disagreements and that’s not part of the Beautiful Game.
I hope there will be an official statement or update on Lorch from the club so that they can dispel any untruths or set the record straight about the player’s injury and future at the club. Until they do that, people will go with what they hear and that’s not going to help anyone. Quiet diplomacy doesn’t always work. While it is okay for Pirates to keep quiet and not entertain all the noise made about Lorch, the same can’t be said about the supporters and the sooner they are kept informed, the better. Lorch still has a lot to offer Bucs and it would be great for South African football to have him back on the field and playing. Whether he’s still injured or not, the bottom line is that our football need Nyoso and he still has a role to play. It has been months now without any concrete information on Lorch. Have you seen Lorch?