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Bafana poisoned chalice 'survivor' Palacios eager to help SA soccer

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Augusto Palacios. (Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images)
Augusto Palacios. (Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images)

Wily former Peruvian World Cup player Augusto Palacios, who is one of only a couple of the 20 head coaches who have not suffered from the poisoned chalice of being fired by SAFA or not having their contract renewed, says he is ready and eager to help South African soccer in any way he can as the critical 2022 World Cup qualifying programme looms early in June.

Palacios, who took out South African citizenship after settling in the country more than 30 years ago, recently resigned as Development Director of Orlando Pirates after more than 15 years in various coaching and technical positions with the Buccaneers.

But Palacios, who resigned after a successful spell with Bafana in the 1990s to accept a brief appointment overseas, said he was not thinking specifically about the present controversies that are surrounding the firing of Molefi Ntseki as head coach after the failure of South Africa to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations Finals in Cameroon early next year - or the confusion and controversy in which SAFA claims 200 applicants have been received to fill the head coaching position.

"Obviously with the World Cup qualifiers less than two months away the Bafana head coaching post is vital and of urgent proportions," says the South American-born Palacios, "but as equally important is the appointment of the National Director of Coaching that has remained vacant since the departure of Neil Tovey 10 months ago."

Palacios believes this applies specifically if an overseas coach with little knowledge of South African players and conditions is appointed as Bafana coach.

"With so little time to acclimatise," added Palacios, "it will be an urgent requirement for the new Bafana head coach to have a National Director of Coaching at his side for advice and some direction - and it would need to be someone with the right degree of knowledge and experience because an unqualified choice could do more harm than good.."

Asked whether he saw himself as a candidate for either the Bafana head coach or SAFA Director of Coaching positions, Palacios said "not specifically."

"As I said I am ready to help the nation wherever I can - and I believe others who have been through the soccer mill and have something to offer should be accepted into the fold and not shunned," he added.

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