Pule and Lorch: Have they played themselves into contention to start for Orlando Pirates?

Thembinkosi Lorch, Vincent Pule & Xola Mlambo, Orlando Pirates, January 2019
The two players were off their best last season under new coach Josef Zinnbauer and will be looking to improve in the 2020/ 21 campaign

Vincent Pule and Thembinkosi Lorch both came off the bench to good effect in Orlando Pirates' 1-1 draw with AmaZulu at the Kings Park Stadium on Saturday evening.

They were ultimately unable to help the Sea Robbers claim all three points, but there were some positive signs from the two attacking midfielders.

Sometimes a bit of a wake-up call, some time out of the starting line-up, can inspire players to lift their game and this may be the case with the pair, Lorch in particular.

While Pule started the previous match against Cape Town City, a 1-0 win in the MTN8, Lorch's appearance against AmaZulu was his first of the season for Bucs.

He replaced Siphesihle Ndlovu after half-time, with Pule coming on for Deon Hotto at the same point in the match.

Lorch's form had floundered last season following the arrival of head coach Josef Zinnbauer and he managed only three goals in all competitions.

That's in stark contrast to the 2018/2019 campaign when the former Maluti FET College player banged in 15 goals in all competitions under Milutin 'Micho' Sredojevic and featured regularly for the national team.

Pule's output also dropped under Zinnbauer last season as he scored only three league goals compared to the previous campaign when he netted eight in the Premiership.

So far in Pirates' two matches this season, against City and AmaZulu, they have not overly impressed and there has seemed to be a lack of creativity.

While it's too early in the campaign to make judgments, both players certainly brought another dimension to the match against AmaZulu, even if they couldn't help inspire victory.

As this highlights video package shows, Lorch and Pule offered plenty of energy and enterprise and did manage to get the team buzzing to a certain degree.

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Their performances will surely give Zinnbauer and his technical team some food for thought and if these two fans' favourites can recapture their best form, it should significantly add to Bucs’ chances of winning some kind of silverware this season.

It will be interesting to see whether either of them start in the Buccaneers’ next game, against Stellenbosch FC at the Orlando Stadium on Wednesday night.

They could also prove to be key for Pirates in their showdown with Kaizer Chiefs in the two-legged MTN8 semi-finals.