Minerva Punjab parts ways with Spanish coach over communication barrier

Minerva owner Ranjit Bajaj realised that the players couldn’t follow the instructions because of Juan Luis Herrera’s heavily accented English. Sachin Badhade will now take over as the head coach.

Spanish coach Juan Luis Perez Herrera handling his first training session at the Minerva Punjab FC.   -  Twitter / Minerva Punjab FC


After a decent outing in its debut I-League campaign, Minerva Punjab roped in Spanish coach Juan Luis Perez Herrera in August in an attempt to bolster the squad for the upcoming season. However, the move did not work out as Juan and the club have now parted ways.

“We got him (Juan) for the pre-season — before the I-league started — because we wanted to know if he would fit in. He is a great coach and his coaching was never a doubt, but the problem was that he was taking too long to get through to the players,” Minerva owner Ranjit Bajaj told Sportstar.

It took him a while, but Ranjit soon realised that something was amiss as the players were simply unable to follow the coach's instructions. “I noticed that they weren't following any of the coach's instructions and asked them what the issue was. It was only then that they conceded that couldn't understand what he was saying. His English was heavily accented and the local players, who aren't very fluent in the language, found it very tough to understand him and all they did was nod their heads,” he said.

Turning point

This lack of communication was on display during a game in the Punjab League. “It was a corner kick and one of the opposition's players was unmarked. Juan noticed this and yelled at the players, telling them to mark the player. Everybody looked at him and tried to understand what he was trying to say but nobody got it. That player remained unmarked and the ball went straight to him and he scored. This was valid proof of what the boys were saying and I had to let Juan go,” said Ranjit.

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“If this happens in an I-league match, it would be very tough to digest,” he further adds. “The coach's job is to communicate. If the players can't understand what he's saying, what's the point of having such a coach? Just having a foreign coach for the sake of it is not right.”

On the timing of the decision

“If I had done this in the middle of the I-League season it would've been tougher. It is bitter pill for us, but it's better to swallow it now than later,” Ranjit remarked.

Sachin named head coach

Assistant coach Sachin Badhade will now take over the reins. “Sachin helped us during the trials and is liked by all the players. If I had to get a new coach now, he would then have to get to know the players. The boys responded well to Sachin,” he noted.

Ranjit said Badhade played a vital role in his side's recent 3-2 win over Bengaluru FC and that he certainly deserved a chance. “Khalid Jamil won the I-League because he was given the chance. We need to give Indian coaches chances too.”

Badhade will be supported by Surinder Singh and Khogen Singh, thereby completing an all-Indian coaching contingent as Minerva prepares for its second I-League season.

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