Orlando Pirates may have ideal Thembinkosi Lorch successor waiting in the wings

Thembinkosi Lorch of Orlando Pirates during the DStv Premiership 2023/24 match between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates at the FNB Stadium

Reports have emerged that the Buccaneers’ chairman, Irvin Khoza, hasn’t taken kindly to the sale of Orlando Pirates player Thembinkosi Lorch (pictured) to Mamelodi Sundowns. Picture: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Published Jan 30, 2024


The sooner Orlando Pirates realise that they cannot undo the sale of Thembinkosi Lorch to Mamelodi Sundowns, the sooner they can start life without him and be better off for it.

Lorch hogged the headlines on the deadline day of the January transfer window last week Friday, after Sundowns confirmed his arrival from Pirates. It was the sort of news that broke the hearts of The Ghost. After all, the 30-year-old had become a fan favourite at the club during his eight-year spell there.

Reports have emerged since then that the Buccaneers’ chairman, Irvin Khoza, hasn’t taken kindly to the sale either, after it was revealed that Lorch refused to sign a new contract to remain at the Soweto giants.

As an immediate solution to not losing Lorch to a free transfer, with him entering the final six months of his contract, Pirates opted to sell the midfielder.

Ample reason to believe they’ve been betrayed

You see, Pirates have ample reason to believe that they’ve been betrayed by Lorch, especially after backing him in recent months after being found guilty of gender-based violence.

But in the same breath, the club can’t force him to stay when it’s clear that he was hellbent on moving – either to Sundowns or Pitso Mosimane’s new team, Abha Club, in the Saudi Pro League. But with Pirates having chosen to sell Lorch when the offer came, it’s time for them to start planning for life without the Bloemfontein-born player.

This means coach Jose Riveiro must find Lorch’s replacement within his current squad, given that the transfer window has slammed shut and Pirates’ two signings are not ideal replacements.

Pirates signed Thabiso Lebitso from Chippa United and Thalente Mbatha from SuperSport United on loan deals. Despite the two players arriving with their own pedigree, they are not Lorch’s ideal replacement due to differences in character and style of play.

Finding like for like

Both Lebitso and Mbatha are reserved characters, unlike Lorch, who’s bubbly on and off the pitch thanks to his flamboyance and swagger. They are simple and direct with the ball.

And that’s why Riveiro must do a deep analysis of his players and find the player or players who could potentially replace the one-time PSL Footballer of the Year.

Club legend Benedict “Tso” Vilakazi has already identified Lesedi Kapinga as someone who could replace Lorch, having been in and out of the team after arriving from the Brazilians this season.

Vilakazi sounds as though he’s on to something.

Kapinga and Lorch have a similar style of play, and the former will grab the opportunity as he’s hungry to play. So, instead of crying foul on Lorch, Riveiro and co must speed up the 28-year-old’s progression, given that Lorch wasn’t only an influential player but one of the few leaders in the team.

They might not be like-forlike, but if Pirates want to be a force to be reckoned with in the second half of the season, they can’t look further than Kapinga as Nyoso’s replacement.


IOL Sport