'I thought it wasn't a goal‚' says Bafana's goal hero Thembinkosi Lorch

07 July 2019 - 14:42 By MARC STRYDOM IN CAIRO - EGYPT
Orlando Pirates' star attacker Thembinkosi Lorch celebrates the goal that gave South Africa a win and a place in the quarterfinals of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
Orlando Pirates' star attacker Thembinkosi Lorch celebrates the goal that gave South Africa a win and a place in the quarterfinals of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
Image: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

Thembinkosi Lorch had to turn and make sure he had actually scored‚ such was the stunned silence at Cairo International Stadium following the Orlando Pirates man's 85th-minute winner that saw Bafana Bafana shock hosts Egypt 1-0 in the last-16.

Lorch came into the starting line-up for suspended Themba Zwane on Saturday night for a first start of the tournament‚ and first Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals appearance‚ and added an attacking dimension in a front three with Lebo Mothiba and the on-fire Percy Tau.

An inspired Bafana‚ structured but failing in attack scraping through the group stages‚ finally found a swagger on the ball and forward momentum based on their quick short-passing game that can really trouble North and West Africans.

Put through with the clock winding down by Mothiba‚ Lorch made no mistake and buried the winning goal.

The sight of a team sprinting and deliriously celebrating to complete‚ stunned silence was bizarre.

"Ja‚ hey‚ I was shocked hey. I thought it wasn't a goal‚" Lorch said afterwards.

"Normally when you score people are celebrating. But it shows that we obviously didn't have our support here.

"But we had to make our supporters at home proud. Ja‚ and I'm happy.

"Like I said before the game‚ I was worried about my match fitness. If you saw‚ I was cramping.

"But the confidence is still there. And‚ ja I just needed the minutes to play."

The absence of 2018-19 Premier Soccer League (PSL) Footballer and Player's Player of the Season Lorch in the tournament had mystified supporters at home.

He dedicated his goal to the fans.

"It means a lot. Especially for the supporters. That one was for the supporters‚" Lorch said.

"Because they were always supporting me. Even my family at home. Even my late brother. It was for him."

The attacker said playing in front of big crowds in South Africa prepared Bafana for the wall of red and noise they would face at Cairo International Stadium.

"We are used to it‚ especially playing in an Orlando Pirates versus Kaizer Chiefs derby‚" Lorch said.

"So I told myself that there's nothing here. You just have to express yourself‚ and play your normal game."

Bafana meet nemesis team Nigeria - who beat Cameroon 3-2 in a last-16 thriller in Saturday's earlier game - in Wednesday night's quarterfinal (kickoff 9pm) at Cairo International.

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