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Lorch crowned the king of SA

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"When we train in the morning, I would go to Virgin Active at night to put in some extra work. I think that it helped."

BEST OF THE BEST: Thembinkosi Lorch Orlando Pirates player at the Premier soccer league awards in Durban. Picture: Bongani Mbatha BackpagePix

THE new king of South African football, Thembinkosi Lorch didn’t look like the big winner that he was at the Premier Soccer League awards ceremony on Sunday night at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Convention Centre in Durban.

The Orlando Pirates’ forward wore a stern face despite walking away with the coveted Footballer of the Season and the Absa Premiership Player’s Player of the Season awards.

In fact, Lorch looked rather uncomfortable with his crown after his coronation by his peers and coaches.

You see, Lorch doesn’t care much about the spotlight.

Out of his shell

He just wants to play, and boy did he do that this season – stepping out of his shell to lead Orlando Pirates in a tight Absa Premiership race that was decided on the last day.

Mamelodi Sundowns walked away with the championship, but the Buccaneers did enough to convince the Ghost that they are back after a disastrous season three campaigns ago. The Buccaneers will also be returning to the CAF Champions League for a second consecutive season.

Next season will be about delivering, something that Lorch knows well.

“I owe the team something,” Lorch said, clutching his Footballer of the Season and Absa Premiership Player’s Player of the Season awards. “Maybe next season we will get trophies to make our supporters and our chairman (Irvin Khoza) happy.”

The Buccaneers were eliminated in penalties in all three knockout competitions, from the MTN8 to the Telkom Knockout and the Nedbank Cup. Lorch missed a decisive penalty in the Telkom Knockout final against Baroka FC.

That miss hurt him, but also motivated him to carry Pirates and not disappoint the Ghost. His hard work culminated in him bagging two of the three awards he was nominated for.

“Extra training,” Lorch said in explaining what was behind his rich vein of form. “When we train in the morning, I would go to Virgin Active at night – at about 8pm to put in some extra work. I think that it helped. I just have to keep on doing that.

“When you want to be the best player in the PSL, you have to score goals and you have to create for the team, for other players to score. You have to fight for the team, even if it’s difficult. You have to show who you are and help the team.”

The 25-year-old was involved in 14 of the club’s 44 goals in the league with nine goals and five assists. His nine goals were five goals better than the four he scored last season.

“We have a finishing coach at Orlando Pirates, and that has contributed to the number of goals I have scored,” Lorch said. “We always do finishing exercises every week. I would like to thank him for taking the time to teach us how to score.

“It’s disappointing (that we ended the season with nothing), but I believe that we had a good season,” Lorch said. “We were just unfortunate that we didn’t lift a trophy. We lost on penalties in the MTN8, Nedbank Cup and Telkom Knockout.”