Augusto Palacios stepped in as Orlando Pirates coach early this month following the sudden resignation of Muhsin Ertugral after the Buccaneers had been humiliated with a 6-1 defeat by SuperSport United in an Absa Premiership clash in Nelspruit.
The two sides return to the Mbombela Stadium Saturday (6pm) to face off for a place in the Telkom Knockout final on December 10, and Palacios could prove he may well be capable of being more than just an interim coach this season.
Since he was asked to take over a team clearly struggling for confidence, the Peruvian has guided Pirates to a three-game winning streak, shaking things up in the dressing room and leaving fans wondering whether club chairman Irvin Khoza still plans to appoint a long-term coach early next year after the Africa Cup of Nations recess (from December 20 to February 8).
“At the moment I am thinking about the next game, not January or February,” said Palacios.
“I have been at this club for nearly 21 years now and the chairman knows my passion for development. That is my home. But if he wants me to stay on, then I will stay on. And if he wants me to go back to the development side, then I will also go. The chairman decides. I don’t have the right to say I should stay on because I have won three games in a row.”
Palacios, also a former Bafana Bafana coach, has been in this situation at Pirates on several occasions.
He’s the club’s “Fireman Sam”, ready for any eventuality given the results-driven nature of being in the hot seat at one of the biggest clubs on the African continent.
His most recent stint as a stop-gap for Pirates was in 2012, concluding that season as league champions after Brazilian Julio Leal had quit despite helping the club capture the MTN8 and Telkom Knockout trophies a few months earlier.
“I came in with 12 games to go,” Palacios recalled.
“It was great to finish it by winning the league, but things are a bit different now and there are more games still to be played.
“There are players I worked with then who are still at the club and there is also a big group of players I didn’t come to know until now.
“But everyone knows my mentality. We are not talking about the next months, only the next game. I am a soldier for this club and here to help in anyway I can.”
Reaching a cup final so soon after assuming the reins will go some way in validating his contribution, giving Pirates boss Khoza further affirmation that he knows who to call when a quick fix is the only option.
To do it against a SuperSport side that inflicted the worst defeat for Pirates since 1990 will also linger long in the memory.
Follow Mazola Molefe on Twitter@superjourno
Original source: Palacios taking it one game at a time