Kaizer Chiefs teenage attacker Mduduzi Shabalala has acknowledged he ‘wholeheartedly’ adores Orlando Pirates star Thembinkosi Lorch.
Lorch’s performance during the Soweto Derby showdown in February 2019 remains Shabalala’s memorable moment of the biggest fixture in South African football.
The Buccaneers star salvaged a 1-1 draw for Pirates with a late goal after that cancelled Daniel Cardoso’s penalty for Chiefs earlier in the contest.
Shabalala fondly remembers that match which he attended at FNB Stadium and cannot hide his admiration for Lorch who remains his idol until today.
“My most memorable derby was in 2019 I think… when Chiefs were leading 1-0 and Thembinkosi Lorch equalised for Pirates after a pass from Ben Motshwari,” said Shabalala as per Sowetan Live.
“Lorch then took off his shirt. That’s when I started to love Lorch wholeheartedly.
“It’s quite exciting to be myself at the moment. Playing in the Soweto derby is something I have been dreaming about since I was a kid. I used to envy players like Happy Jele and Itu [Itumeleng Khune] playing the derby.
“We know we disappointed our fans against Arrows but now that’s behind us. We will go out there and fight very hard. We want to make our fans smile again.”
Shabalala details how his family is now torn between supporting Chiefs and Pirates.
He says some of his family members defected from following the Buccaneers and are now allegiant to Amakhosi. But his father is a die-hard Pirates fan who declined to switch camp.
“I grew up supporting Pirates… everyone at home was supporting Pirates,” said Shabalala. “Since I joined Chiefs, I had to change and support Chiefs. I will now die a Chiefs fan.
“At home, I have managed to influence my mother and my siblings to change to Chiefs but my father has refused to change. Even now he [his father] says they’ll beat us… he loves Pirates very much.”
Lorch and Shabalala are set to face off on Saturday when Chiefs and Pirates cross swords at FNB Stadium. The 19-year-old Chiefs starlet is 10 years younger than Lorch and is now gearing up to come up against his idol.
If he plays, it would be Shabalala’s maiden Soweto Derby appearance and a battle to outshine his hero would be on the cards.
Shabalala had an opportunity to be Lorch’s teammate when he once trained with Pirates’ development side but dumped them for Amakhosi. Now he is his idol’s rival.
After Shabalala scored a beautiful goal last weekend, he raised his hand up to be considered for selection on Saturday. Also, having started Chiefs’ last four games, he is likely to be in the lineup against Pirates.