Mamelodi Sundowns headline January transfer window with Orlando Pirates ace

The controversial Orlando Pirates striker Thembinkosi Lorch has moved to Mamelodi Sundowns. Picture: Muzi Ntombela / BackpagePix

The controversial Orlando Pirates striker Thembinkosi Lorch has moved to Mamelodi Sundowns. Picture: Muzi Ntombela / BackpagePix

Published Jan 28, 2024


Defending DStv Premiership champions Mamelodi Sundowns waited until the final day to ensure a dramatic closing to the January transfer window by signing one of the league’s biggest stars.

The Brazilians captured the signature of Orlando Pirates and Bafana Bafana ace Thembinkosi Lorch in a deal that is reported to be around R13 million.

Although rumours of the 30-year-old’s move had swirled since the end of last season, it still came as a surprise when the Buccaneers announced his departure on Friday evening.

“Thembinkosi Lorch is to leave Orlando Pirates Football Club after a discussion between the chairman Dr Irvin Khoza and the Mamelodi Sundowns hierarchy,” the club said in a statement.

Lorch scored 34 goals and assisted a further 30 in his 176 appearances for Pirates, but has struggled with fitness and off-field controversy in recent seasons.

Sundowns were undoubtedly again the biggest spenders this time around as the club also bolstered their attacking unit with South African-born Tashreeq Matthews and Argentine Matías Esquivel.

Matthews forfeited opportunities in both Europe and Major League Soccer as he joined the Brazilians from Swedish club IK Sirius.

The 23-year-old registered 10 goals and 10 assists in 30 appearances in his final season with the Swedish club.

The 24-year-old Esquivel put pen to paper on a four-and-a-half-year deal and joins from Club Atletico Lanus, which plays in the Argentine Primera Division.

The three players complete Sundowns’ signing of four new players, the club having lured Zuko Mdunyelwa from Chippa United a few weeks ago.

Pirates themselves used this break as a chance to beef up their ranks, as young midfielder Thalenthe Mbatha joined from SuperSport United on an six-month loan deal with an option to purchase at the end of the season.

The Sea Robbers also announced the capture of 28-year-old ex-Chippa utility man Thabiso Lebitso on a two-and-a-half-year deal.

The Soweto giants also confirmed the departure of Cameroon-born striker Bienvenu Eva Nga, who has since rejoined Chippa.

The biggest story of the past month has been Moroka Swallows’ decision to dismiss 22 players on account of misconduct.

The Dube Birds were expected to have the most arrivals considering the number of departures; however, the Dobsonville club remains mum on the matter and will be a point of interest in the coming weeks.

AmaZulu ensured KwaZulu Natal was revived with a few surprises of their own as the club released the controversial duo of Sibusiso Mabiliso and Sphesihle Maduna, the latter now in the colours of Cape Town Spurs, while the former remains unattached.

Usuthu raised a few eyebrows with the loan signing of defender Sifiso Ngobeni, while Augustine Mulenga returned for his second stint with the club, both players on six-month deals.

Pietermaritzburg-based Royal AM have been thrown into another cloud of uncertainty after being handed yet another transfer ban for their unresolved issues with ex-defender Ricardo Nascimento.

The club have denied any wrongdoing concerning Nascimento’s unpaid salaries and said they expected the second ban to be overturned in no time.