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Outgoing Orlando Pirates coach Augusto Palacios underlines commitment to Soweto giants

Posted: 16 February 2017 Time: 11:11

Augusto Palacios says he will remain forever grateful for what South Africa has brought into his life as he prepares to step down as caretaker coach at Orlando Pirates, a club he says he will give his life for.

The veteran gaffer takes charge of his last game on Saturday, away to Cape Town City, in what has been a rough ride for Palacios, with Pirates winless in the last seven Premiership games he has overseen during his third spell as caretaker coach.

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That unwanted run, which included the 6-0 humiliation at the hands of Mamelodi Sundowns over the weekend and a 2-1 loss to Bidvest Wits last night, has also left the ageing mentor strained health-wise.

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“This country has given me something that no country has given to me,” says the Peru-born tactician, who arrived in South Africa as a player in the early 80s and has been involved with Pirates through all of the PSL era.

“My children are now professionals. I have been a champion with Pirates, I coached Bafana Bafana, I coached Kaizer Chiefs, I coached [Mamelodi] Sundowns, I worked in SAFA and I do my development. If I am to die then I will be satisfied and not bothered because this country has given to me what no other country has given to me and I have respect for that,” he states.

“While at Pirates I have received offers to coach PSL and other countries in Africa, but then I never considered those offers even when they had good salaries. I never took [those offers] because I don’t believe in moving around, it is better for me to establish myself at Pirates where I am happy. I have my own academy and I develop players. Why should l be more ambitious? I am happy because these players keep my health better through training and [even last night after loss to Wits] I went to sleep [easily] because the team showed me character.

“My heart is with this club. I will die for this club. I will die any day and at any time for this club. Any job that the chairman gives me, I will die in it for this club.

"The president of Peru is saying [he heard] the supporters are running to kill me because the news was all over and maybe people were against me but I didn’t pay attention. This is the first time that I have had this situation [a disastrous run of form] in my life. It has never happened but I have to be strong and I hope on Saturday we can get a good result so that the new coach can come in and lift the team because the success of Pirates is the success of everyone especially the supporters."

Palacios went on to reveal his results with Pirates have severely and negatively impacted his personal life, saying: "[I] can’t put petrol in the car or pull the window down and [I] can’t go the mall or walk in the streets, this is my problem because I always want to do my best for this club."

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The 65-year-old has had his health come under the spotlight yet again during his reign in charge, with his previous stint at Mayfair having ended while he was battling back pains.

And, last Saturday, he disappeared down the tunnel at Loftus Versfeld after taking ill, amidst the turmoil that was taking place as fans rioted the stadium after Pirates conceded the sixth goal against Sundowns.

“When emotions are involved, in my case, I have stress. The stress affects my breathing, the blood pressure was also high but it is not something permanent. What they tried to do is put on the oxygen mask so that they lower the depression. During the eight minutes the pressure was destabilised and I went home. The following day I had another medical check and they told me that I can join the team.

"It was only on that occasion. Coaching is part of the stress but it doesn’t mean that my health is damaged. Yes, I've got a lot of calls from people about my health but I feel okay.

"Yes, my health is important but also these players are important and I will die for this club. This [losing by heavy scores] is all part of football and you can’t change it. We need to continue working,” he explains.

He also had a firm message for those who have suggested he is soft.

“I also hear people say I am too soft. Maybe these people must sleep with me to see if I am soft,” he said to laughter in the press conference.

Article by: Lovemore Moyo
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