/ 3 November 2009

Mhlongo injury a blow for Pirates, Bafana

The injury suffered by Benson Mhlongo last week is not only of deep concern for Orlando Pirates but could be damaging for Bafana Bafana as well.

Mhlongo is the kind of undaunted player that is best suited to lift the morale of a team in trouble — and there is no doubting that both Pirates and Bafana currently fall into this category.

But a veiled, cautious but intrinsically gloomy statement issued by The Buccaneers’ team doctor confirms that Mhlongo will ”definitely require surgery” — which could spell the end to his season.

And, ominously, the circumstances of Mhlongo’s injury are not dissimilar to those which kept him out of soccer for almost six months three seasons ago.

”Benson has suffered multiple injuries to his knee,” said the Dr. Bobby Ramasiya. ”Scans have revealed that he has suffered extensive damage to his anterior cruciate ligament and damage to the patella, with a tear of the meniscus also possible.”

Ramasiya said the exact nature of the injuries would only be evaluated by the orthopedic surgeon treating Mhlongo after extensive swelling of the knee has subsided.

”I am worried about the prospect ofthe continued absence of benson,” said Pirates coach Ruud Krol. ”He provides the momentum in
midfield and keeps the whole team on their toes. He is a leader and a heavy loss to the team.”

Life without Mhlongo could also affect Bafana unless there is a dramatic recovery to what appears a major injury — with the World Cup now little more than seven months away and the Pirates star seemingly destined for a lengthy lay-off. — Sapa