Roger de Sa.

Johannesburg – Orlando Pirates shocked their fans on Monday by appointing former Wits boss Roger de Sa as their new coach.

The club had been struggling since the start of the season under Augusto Palacios and failed to score in the last four games. But a statement released on Monday said Palacios had been suffering from a back problem and needed to step aside.

“Augusto Palacios has had to step aside as a result of a persistent back problem that resulted in hospitalisation last week,” the statement on the club’s website said.

De Sa’s appointment is with immediate effect.

“Roger is a team player who has worked in various capacities for our senior and junior national teams including being roped in to the technical team of the Portuguese national team during the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

“I have no doubt that he will find the new challenge at Orlando Pirates a worthwhile enhancement to his career,” said Irvin Khoza.

De Sa revealed that he had sought out the top job at Pirates some years back.

“This has to be the right time as I had years ago contacted the chairman for this job to no avail. When I got the chairman's call I was obviously delighted as I believe I am up to the task at hand,” said De Sa.

Palacios will return to his old job within the club.

“Augusto Palacios will revert to his position in the development structures of Orlando Pirates Football Club with due consideration to his recovery which is expected to take several months after undergoing major spinal surgery,” the statement said.

Pirates play Platinum Stars on September 18. – IOL