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Lorch didn't expect Bafana call-up

Orlando Pirates attacker Thembinkosi Lorch says his call-up to the Bafana Bafana squad for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Morocco came as a surprise.

Bafana do battle with the Atlas Lions at Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat on Thursday and Lorch could feature after receiving his first call up since the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations due to a dip in form, the lengthy layoff as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic followed by two long-term injuries.

A groin and shoulder injury kept Lorch sidelined for three months of the season before he made his comeback in December. Since then he has grown from strength to strength culminating in a man-of-the-match performance in the Buccaneers' CAF Confederation Cup final defeat to Moroccan giants RS Berkane despite missing a late penalty.

It was a bittersweet moment for Lorch, who got over the continental heartbreak by producing arguably his best performance in the Bucs' following match against Maritzburg United, coming away with a goal and three assists.

"It was a tough game because we played the final before the Maritzburg game," Lorch told the SAFA media department while on camp this week. "But the coach told us that we must keep on pushing."

The 28-year-old says being called up to the 37-man preliminary squad in mid-May gave him the confidence to express himself in the final few matches and subsequently cement himself in the final squad.

"When I also saw my name in the preliminary 37-man squad, I said: 'No, it's time for me to push now, I need to see my name in the final 23 man.' It was a good game," he added, as his recollection of the game.

"I managed to score my first goal of the season and assisted three goals, and I got the Man of the Match award. That game gave me confidence to say 'I am back' even though my body was tired."

Although he is delighted to be back, Lorch admits he did not expect to be called up so soon after returning from the sidelines.

"To be honest, I think the call up was too soon. I didn't expect it, although I knew that it was going to come because my performance was going up and I was helping the team win games," he said.

"I remember before the season started, I got a groin injury for six weeks and when I came back, I had a shoulder dislocation and I had to go for an operation. That kept me out for almost three months."