Orlando Pirates suspend Brazilian coach Leal


Leading South African football club Orlando Pirates suspended Brazil-born coach Julio Leal Monday after recent disappointing results.

A statement on the club website said Peruvian Augusto Palacios, the long serving development director, would become caretaker coach of the only South African side to be crowned African champions.

Club chairman Irvin Khoza had his heart set on matching the 1995 feat this year as Pirates turn 75 only for the team to make a shock first round exit against Angolan outfit Recreativo do Libolo.

Pirates also made a poor start to their defence of the South African FA Cup in Durban two days ago, taking 86 minutes to score the only goal of a last-32 tie at fifth-tier Ethekwini Coastal.

Leal did lead the Sea Robbers to the Top 8 and League Cup titles this season while the defending champions are third in the league title race, three points behind leaders Mamelodi Sundowns with 12 rounds to go.

But even winning trophies is sometimes not enough to satisfy tough taskmaster Khoza, who did not renew the contract of coach and former Dutch star Ruud Krol despite winning the championship and two cup competitions last season.

Former South Africa coach Palacios faces a daunting first week at the helm with league fixtures away to relegation threatened Santos in Cape Town Wednesday and at home to arch rivals Kaizer Chiefs three days later in Soweto.