Muricy Ramalho steps down as coach of Sao Paulo due to health concerns

SAO PAULO -- Sao Paulo coach Muricy Ramalho says he is leaving the struggling Brazilian club because of health reasons.

Ramalho met with Sao Paulo officials on Monday and announced he was leaving because he needs time "to take care of my health." The 59-year-old Ramalho reportedly has been nursing a stomach problem and also needs surgery to remove his gallbladder.

The announcement came a day after Sao Paulo lost 2-0 to Botafogo SP in the Sao Paulo state championship, the latest disappointing result in recent weeks. Fans had already been calling for Ramalho's dismissal.

Despite being stocked with talent, the six-time national champion is in danger of not advancing past the group stage of the Copa Libertadores -- a competition it has won three times, including most recently in 2005, a year before Ramalho first took over as manager of the senior team.

This was Ramalho's third stint with Sao Paulo, a team he led to a remarkable three-straight national titles from 2006-08.