BURGEONING Orlando Pirates skipper Benson Mhlongo says his health is the most important thing to him - far more important than next year's Fifa World Cup.
Mayanga, as Mhlongo is affectionately known, suffered a serious knee injury last week in a league match against AmaZulu. It could see him miss out on the 2010 World Cup on home soil.
"The World Cup is not top of my priorities right now, my health comes first. I first need to heal and after that I can start thinking about other things," Mhlongo said from hospital yesterday.
But he admitted that he was disappointed that the injury might put paid to his dream of playing in the showpiece.
Pirates publicist Mickey Modisane said he visited the player in hospital yesterday. He described the injury as "very serious".
"The doctors were still unable to tell us the extent of the injury because the swelling around the knee has not subsided yet, but I must say that it looks very serious," Modisane said.
"As a club we are praying and hoping that it does not rule him out of the World Cup."
He said Mhlongo is trying to keep his spirits up.
"He is obviously devastated by the injury but he is also hopeful that it is not as bad as it looks," he said.
SuperSport United coach and current Bafana Bafana technical assessor Gavin Hunt said losing Mhlongo for the World Cup would be disastrous.