Orlando Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer has welcomed the return of Thembinkosi Lorch from suspension.
Lorch was suspended by the club last week, together with Justin Shonga, for allegedly violating protocols in line with the PSL “bio-bubble”. Shonga remains suspended.
The 2018/19 PSL footballer of the season, Lorch made a welcome return on Tuesday night as Bucs were held to a 1-1 draw by Baroka in the Absa Premiership clash at Ellis Park Stadium.
The 27-year-old Bafana Bafana international came on as second-half substitute for midfielder Fortune Makaringe in a match where Tshegofatso Mabasa scored for Bucs, while Evidence Makgopa equalised for Bakgaga.
Since the restart of the PSL programme a fortnight ago, Lorch has missed his team’s two opening games against Mamelodi Sundowns and Bidvest Wits, which both ended in goalless draws.
On the return of his star player, Zinnbauer said: “You saw the quality he brings. He is a top player and is going to be important for us. In the whole league, he is one of the top players and we will need him for sure.”
The third-placed Pirates are winless in their last five league games and are all but out of the title race. After 26 games, the Soweto giants only have 43 points – nine behind leaders Kaizer Chiefs. Bucs’ performance has been so poor that they had not scored in four previous games, before Tuesday’s match against Baroka.
Zinnbauer conceded: “The games have not been easy. We have to prepare the team for next season and, sure, we always want three points but that’s not the most important thing.
“Our training sessions are not like before, due to the lockdown. The first two games were not easy and against Baroka we again were not good enough. We only got one point instead of three. The momentum was broken by the lockdown.”