AmaZulu v Orlando Pirates

Orlando Pirates in denial about goal-scoring deficiencies?

18:14 EAT 09/12/2021
Thembinkosi Lorch, Orlando Pirates, December 2021
The Bucs co-coach said the trio, who have barely played at this season, would be like new signings when they return from injury

Recently, Orlando Pirates coach Fadlu Davids spoke about getting back Pirates' 'Salah, Mane, and Firmino', referring to the return from injury of Thembinkosi Lorch, Zakhele Lepasa and Vincent Pule.

One can understand his sentiment, because Lorch and Pule are proven, quality players, and Lepasa has shown good potential.

Then, after Lorch made his long-awaited comeback and his first appearance of the season after coming off the bench against AmaZulu on Wednesday in, Pirates co-coach Mandla Ncikazi also insinuated that Lorch could solve Pirates' goal-scoring woes.

"Lorch is quality and I’m confident (that) if he plays like this in his first game after a long time of being injured it’s all positive," he told SuperSport TV.

“I just wish he grows from here and assists the team in what it’s been missing the most, which is to score goals.

“Maybe we need a Lorch to finish the product and terminate the attacks.”

The problem was, Pirates had numerous chances to beat AmaZulu, but were wasteful in front of goal, and that included a 93rd minute miss from Lorch himself - from just two or three metres out in front of an open goal, he blazed over.

It epitomized the problems Pirates have had in front of goal in recent seasons. For their good build-up play, they have not been clinical enough where it counts.

On one hand, it's understandable that Lorch is rusty after a very long layoff and it might be unfair to criticise him too harshly.

On the other hand, one has to question the wisdom of hoping that Lorch will resolve Bucs' misfiring issues.

Lorch is a fantastic player, thrilling to watch when fit and at his best. But he's not an out-and-out striker, rather a winger or attacking midfielder who likes to push forward.

He had one sensational season with Pirates, three years back, when he netted 15 goals in all competitions.

Career-wise however, that was the exception to the rule.

Last season (2020/ 21) he netted four goals in 24 matches. The season before that, it was three goals in 26 games. It was in 2018/2019 that he netted 15 goals in 40 matches.

Before that, his tallies were: four goals in 24 matches, and five in 28 games (his first season in the PSL, 2016/17,which was split between Chippa United and Pirates).

Decent numbers for an attacking midfielder, but not a prolific striker.

Lorch will no doubt boost Pirates' forward line with a coupe of goals and maybe a handful of assists. But he's not the answer, and neither are Lepasa or Pule, who have also not been consistent goal scorers.

Another option, new signing Kwame Peprah, has put in some useful performances of late and seems to be settling in, but while showing good potential in his allround game, he's yet to impress in front of the net.

What Pirates currently have are a bunch of useful goal-scoring midfielders, but not a prolific marksman, at least not since Gabadinho Mhango has gone off the boil. It's an area of the game that is continuing to haunt them and relying on Lorch, as well as Pule and Lepasa (when the latter two return) to fix the problem, is asking for a lot.