Johannesburg - Orlando Pirates on Monday took everybody by surprise when they appointed Roger de Sa as the club’s new head coach.
The move came about in the wake of last season’s league-winning coach Augusto Palacios forced to quit due to health reasons. According to Pirates, Palacios is scheduled to have spinal surgery.
The big question now, though, is whether new coach De Sa can get along with striker Benni McCarthy.
The two had a major falling out during last year’s Telkom Knockout Cup final, when De Sa was still the coach of Bidvest Wits.
At the time, De Sa was quoted as saying (about McCarthy): “After the game, when I went to shake his hand, he told me to piss off. So I told him he’s got three brain cells and he probably gets paid by the kilo.”
McCarthy, in interviews afterwards, was livid, and said he had been disrespected by De Sa and his assistant, Eric Tinkler. The Bafana striker said: “Banter is part of football, but I think, when you disrespect, that crosses another line. For Roger de Sa and Eric Tinkler, former players, to behave like that, I think they should be thrown out of the game. That is why they are coaches at Wits, and are not among the Gavin Hunts and Steve Komphelas of this League.”
And then, when McCarthy subsequently won the striker’s prize at the Telkom Knockout Cup awards evening, he added: “Eric Tinkler and Roger de Sa are dead to me. I haven’t spoken to them since and I don’t intend doing so. They are non-existent in my life.”
So how will the two work together now that De Sa is McCarthy’s coach?
Apparently, they will be trying...
McCarthy on Monday tweeted: “Very sad news of coach Palacios resignation. A good man and a great coach. I wish him a speedy recovery. Congrats is in order to Roger de Sa. Roger is a good coach, that’s why he got the job, hope he brings success.
“Everything that concern Pirates we make exception. De Sa is boss now, so I gotta take and work with it. My happiness is second.”
De Sa added that, as professionals, it’s imperative they work together for the good of the team.
“It was a once-off incident,” De Sa told kickoff.com. “We are both professional enough to continue with our careers. I’m a great admirer of his ability and I’m sure we will continue to work well together. All will be fine.”
As for the Pirates job, De Sa added: “It really is a great honour to be here. An opportunity like this comes once in a career. And I will hopefully grab the opportunity with both hands
“I know it is a hell of a challenge, no doubt about it. Pirates won back-to-back trebles and everybody is expecting the same again. But I think I’m ready for it.”