11 October 2018 – Thembinkosi Lorch was about to walk onto Orlando Pirates’ training grounds when he received a call from his team manager, Floyd Mbele bearing news which took him by total surprise.
“Mr Mbele 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 (to the Bafana camp).
“I was not surprised by the call-up though,” says the confident 25-year old midfielder. “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”.
From childhood, all Lorch always wanted was to become a professional footballer, and he says he looks back to where he comes from with pride.
Back in 2015, Lorch signed a three-year deal with Pirates only to be sent out on loan to NFD side, Cape Town All Stars for a season without playing a single match for the Buccaneers. The season-long loan deal was then followed with another six months loan spell with Chippa United, before he went back to Pirates.
Lorch admitted that though it felt he was paddling against the wave at that time, that whole process helped him to be the ever so reliable player that he is today.
Lorch came into the Bafana set-up as one to the two replacements for injured Mamelodi Sundowns’ Thapelo Morena and fellow Pirates teammate Vincent Pule. The other replacement for the duo is Cape Town City’s centre-back and captain, Thamsanqa Mkhize.
“That whole process played a massive part in transforming me into a player that I am today,” Lorch says.
“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.
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.”
This Saturday, Bafana Bafana will host Seychelles in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at FNB Stadium (Kick-off 3pm), before they travel to Stade Linete for their second leg match to be played on 16 October 2018.
Lorch says winning the first leg will set the tone for the second leg away from home.
“Home games are always crucial,” Lorch says. “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. 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.”