Johannesburg - The Bafana Bafana camp suffered another major blow when key defender Lucas Thwala was withdrawn from the squad preparing for next month's Confederations Cup.
The Orlando Pirates star who can operate at left back or as a central defender, suffered a calf injury in Bucs' final PSL match against AmaZulu last weekend.
Said Bafana team manager Sipho Nkumane: "The technical staff were devastated as they rate Thwala very highly. The calf injury resurfaced on Friday and he needs two weeks rest and another two weeks before he can begin serious training."
Thwala has been replaced by Golden Arrows defender Mzuvukile Tom who trained with the squad at the Johannesburg Stadium gym on Saturday.
But one player who might benefit from Thwala's absence is rising SuperSport United star, Morgan Gould. Gould has enjoyed a meteoric rise since joining United form relegated Jomo Cosmos at the start of the season, helping SuperSport retain the PSL championship.
Said Gould: "I am sorry about Lucas' injury as he is a top class player. But at the same time I need to grab any opportunity that comes my way. I will be pushing hard at training, making sure I impress the technical staff."
Gould, who has played twice for his country this year in the friendly home wins over Malawi (3-0) and Zambia (1-0), hopes to use the Confederations Cup to showcase his talents to European club scouts.
Said the tough as nails central defender: "My goal is to play in Europe and the Confederations Cup might be the vehicle for me. But I need to force my way in the starting line up. The competition for places is very good and the fact both regular central defenders, Aaron Mokoena and Nasief Morris, join us on June 1, means I will gain from their experience."
He is hoping to face the likes of Spain superstars Fernando Torres and David Villa in the final Group A match in Bloemfontein on June 20. But he knows he has to work hard in the meantime.
Gould said he survived a nerve wracking couple of days in the run-up to the PSL championship when SuperSport lost 2-1 at home to Arrows and needed a point in Cape Town against Santos to win the title in the final fixture last Saturday.
Said Gould: "It was unbelievable. When I joined United I never expected the season to turn out like this. But it has been a fantastic roller coaster ride for me after Cosmos were relegated last season. But I am delighted we won the league and Cosmos won promotion and are back in the PSL."
Pirates striker Katlego Mashego is taking the pressure of being one of Santana's in-form strikers, in his stride.
Said the quietly spoken Mashego: "I do not feel any pressure at the moment. We are all looking forward to the Confederations Cup and the key is to not worry about Spain who we play last in the group stage, but make sure we win both our first two matches against Iraq and New Zealand."
Mashego said collecting six points from Iraq and New Zealand would mean Bafana would not be under pressure against the world number one country when they clash at the Free State Stadium. "Six points will see us qualify for the semi-finals. We need to get the job done before we play Spain. It would be nice to play against Spain knowing we had already qualified for the semis."