De Sa at Pirates helm
ROGER de Sa and Benni McCarthy, angry adversaries just 10 months ago, are now comrades-in-arms at Orlando Pirates.
De Sa was yesterday named coach of the Buccaneers in place of Augusto Palacios, who is said to be ailing due to a spinal problem.
De Sa immediately offered an olive branch to Pirates' volatile striker, claiming to be a great admirer of the 34-year-old, who won his 80th Bafana cap at the weekend in a 12-minute cameo against Brazil in Sao Paulo.
De Sa, along with his then assistant coach at Wits, Eric Tinkler, clashed on the touchline with McCarthy during last December's Telkom Knockout final in Durban.
Harsh words were exchanged, with McCarthy saying at the time: "Eric Tinkler and De Sa are dead to me. I haven't spoken to them since - and I don't intend doing so."
Yesterday, however, De Sa downplayed the incident.
"It was a once-off," he said. "We are both professionals. I'm a great admirer of his ability. We will work as a team for the success of Pirates. There are no issues between Benni and I."
Pirates chairman Irvin Khoza announced yesterday that De Sa, who was recently sacked by Wits, had been offered a three-year contract.
"It is a hell of a big challenge, especially after [Pirates'] back-to- back treble success. I'm ready for it," said De Sa.
"We have to keep the ship going. Finishing second on the log at Pirates is not good enough. We have to keep up the winning mentality."
Khoza and De Sa are clearly on the same page.
"The mandate here is an obvious one: win silverware," said the chairman.
"We are the best and need the best results. Roger is a team player who has worked in various capacities for our senior and junior national teams.
"He has an eye for talent, which is why he did so well with youngsters at Wits."
De Sa, a former professional basketball player, was recruited by Screamer Tshabalala from amateur club Jeppe Quondam to be goalkeeper for Moroka Swallows.
Khoza will introduce him to the Pirates team today at training at Rand stadium. His first game in charge will be on Saturday against Platinum Stars in Phokeng.
Khoza announced the change in coaches yesterday, saying Palacios had been relieved of his duties for health reasons. Palacios replaced Julio Leal shortly before the end of last season.
"We have had an unfortunate situation where the coach [Palacios] was hospitalised last week because of a spinal problem," said Khoza.
"He cannot even stand for 30 minutes, so it will be difficult for him to continue coaching the team."
Khoza said the former Bafana coach and manager would go back to his original job of technical director: development.
"We value him very much, the man has been with us for 17 years and has served the club with aplomb. His health is very important to the club and his family."
Palacios, known as Njenje, is happy with the change.
"My health comes first, I need some time to recover. I wish Roger the best of luck; I will be available to assist him whenever he needs help.
"I'm happy with the new arrangement; it is done in the best interests of the club," said Palacios, who was limping at the media briefing.
Roger de Sa Fact File:
1964 - Rogerio Paulo Cesar De Sa is born on October 1
1984 - Began professional footballing career as a goalkeeper with Kwikot Benoni
1989 - Made the move to the big time with PSL outfit Moroka Swallows
1993 - Made his debut for Bafana Bafana
1995 - Eventually joined up with Mamelodi Sundowns, where he captained the team
1997 - Signed with Bidvest Wits, still as a player
2001 - Moved into management with Bidvest Wits, earned Coach of the Season award in 2002/03
2005 - Left the Students to take up a coaching role with Santos
2007 - Returned to Bidvest Wits where he won the Nedbank Cup in 2010, was later sacked in 2012
2012 - Was named Orlando Pirates coach in September