De Sa, who departed Ajax Cape Town at the end of October last year, was confirmed as the KZN side’s new head coach at a press conference on Tuesday morning.
The appointment of De Sa on a three-year deal has also brought to an end speculation that the former Bidvest Wits and Orlando Pirates tactician was to succeed Shakes Mashaba as the head coach of the South African national team.
The Team of Choice enjoyed a first-ever top eight finish in the league at the end of the 2014/15 campaign. But after head coach Steve Komphela left for Kaizer Chiefs the following season, Maritzburg have battled. Mandla Ncikazi only lasted a couple of months in the hot-seat, as did veteran coach Clive Barker.
The club turned to Ernst Middendorp, hiring the German for a third time, and he was just able to help avoid relegation with a dramatic last day survival-act away at Jomo Cosmos last May.
Middendorp’s surprise departure at the end of November once again left the team in a bit of disarray, although a good run of form under caretaker coach Fadlu Davids saw Maritzburg ending 2016 in eighth spot on the PSL table.
United have taken their time in confirming De Sa’s appointment, the uncertainty surrounding the vacant Bafana head coach position not helping their cause.
But for a club which places emphasis on youth development and which wants stability in the top-flight first and foremost, they probably feel they have made the perfect appointment in hiring one of the country’s most respected coaches.
“Credit to Fadlu Davids and the rest of the technical team on doing a wonderful job after Middendorp’s departure,” said chairman Farook Kadodia.
“It was important for us to carefully select this appointment. Fadlu Davids did an impeccable job in keeping the team in the top eight. Roger and I go back 10 years in football business. We have a coach who we believe has great quality.”
Maritzburg almost always play in front of close-to-capacity crowds at home at the Harry Gwala Stadium, and De Sa says he is looking forward to getting the chance to take charge of a club he always felt he may end up at one day.
“Given my relationship with the chairman this was always going to happen at some stage. I had a few offers, I’m happy to be here,” said the 52-year-old.
“Exciting times for me. The target is to first get to 30 points, but we want more than that. We want to compete.
“The club has a good squad. It also has the best fan bases in the country. They get behind this team in a big way.”
Davids and his brother Mahier will remain the assistant coaches. Maritzburg return to action when they travel to Polokwane City on February 8.