When Bafana Bafana beat hosts Egypt during the Round of 16 stage of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) on July 6, South Africans were quaking. We’re not used to victory, and so, naturally, the country went berserk. The name of the goalscorer, Thembinkosi Lorch, was on every South African’s tongues. Mo Salah, who? South Africa’s staggering play has given the nation renewed hope as Bafana prepare to take on Nigeria in the quarter finals on July 10.
If we’re honest, we didn’t have much hope for the national squad during Afcon. Bafana suffered defeats against Ivory Coast and Morocco, and their only win against Namibia pushed them through to the next round. Judging by their dismal performance during the group stages, we thought it was curtains for Bafana when they were set to meet Egypt.
Being the host nation, and boasting football heavyweight Salah on the team, Egypt were favourites going into the tournament. But we’ve never been happier when Bafana proved us wrong, causing a huge upset against the Pharaohs.
Spectators were treated to 90 minutes of skilfull, and flair-filled performance from our boys. Bafana played with heart and urgency, and dare we say it, outplayed Egypt on home ground.
In his first start for Bafana, Orlando Pirates forward Lorch scored the winning goal to knock the hosts out of the tournament.
The stadium was electric. Social media was ablaze. Even the commentators shoddy pronunciation couldn’t bring us down.
Lorch seals the deal
Black Twitter was in their feels. Twitter users had called on coach Stuart Baxter to replace Themba Zwane with Lorch under the hashtag #LaunchLorch. Zwane was suspended from playing the match after receiving two yellow cards. And what a fantastic decision that turned out to be.
About 85 minutes into the match, Lorch fleet-footed the ball into the left-hand corner in a move that looked effortless. The player was also named Man of the Match.
Mzansi showered Lorch with love on social media, even hailing Lorch as Moses.
Lorch almost apologised for silencing the Cairo International Stadium with his goal. “When I scored, I thought it was not a goal because of the silence in the stadium. Normally when you score, people celebrate, but it dawned on me that I had hurt the feelings of more than 80,000 people,” Lorch said during the post-match conference.
The 25-year-old dedicated the goal to his late brother, who passed away last week. “This win means a lot, especially for the country and I am also happy for my family back home. This was for my late brother who passed away in the Free State last week. I dedicate this goal to him,” Lorch told the media after the match.
Some may only know his name after Saturday, but Lorch has been doing the things. The Pirates forward was named both South African Player of the Season and Players’ Player of the Season in 2019.
But Bafana don’t have much time to bask in their victory. As Lorch said: “The Nigeria game is going to be a tough game, Nigerians are big and strong but we will plan for them the way we planned against Egypt. Now we believe and our confidence is sky high, anything is now possible but we must keep on pushing”.
Clearly Bafana has what it takes to bring home the trophy, but will they actually deliver? We’re biting our nails in anticipation for the quarter final.
Kick-off for Wednesday’s quarter-final against Nigeria is at 21:00.
Featured image via Flickr