The Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 will witness 12 teams in action after the addition of Punjab FC was confirmed, on Wednesday. They are the latest entrants in the ISL and become the first club to be promoted to the league having emerged as I-League champions during the 2022-23 season. 

Staikos Vergetis’ won the I-League with a game to spare and topped the standings with 52 points from 22 games. The I-League title returned to Punjab for the first time in five years, with Minerva previously having won it during the 2017-18 season. 

1) Solid set of players

Punjab FC have retained the core of their team from last season including key foreign signings such as Kiran Limbu, Luka Majcen and Juan Mera, all who have extended their contracts by one season. 

Aleksandar Ignjatovic, Shankar Sampingiraj and Juan Nellar are among the six players to depart the club besides loanees Valpuia, Aphaoba Singh and Pranjal Bhumij.

To add to a strong squad, Punjab have made some well-known signings, bringing in the likes of Leon Augustine, Prasanth K, Amarjit Singh Kim - to name a few. Punjab FC fans will have high expectations from the team given the firepower in their squad.


2) The deadly duo – Majcen & Mera 

With Punjab FC fighting it out in the ISL for the first time, forwards Luka Majcen and Juan Mera will have a key role to play in their success. The duo forged a lethal partnership in Punjab FC’s attack last season as the side netted 54 goals all season - the highest in the league stage.  

Together, the duo had a hand in 26 of Punjab FC’s goals, more than half of the team’s overall tally. Majcen fired 16 goals across 22 matches, going on to win the I-League Golden Boot award alongside and the Hero of the League Award. Meanwhile, Mera netted 10 goals across 18 games, finishing as the third highest scorer in the I-League.

3) Vergetis, the Greek mastermind  

Vergetis was appointed head coach of Punjab FC ahead of the 2022-23, having previously spent his career in Europe, coaching teams in the first and second divisions of Greece. He transformed Punjab FC into a side that became hard to beat, winning the I-League title in his first season in Indian football. 

Vergetis’ mix of adventure and pragmatism worked wonders for Punjab FC. The club suffered just two defeats last season, while winning 16 of their 22 games. Punjab FC finished top of the league with 52 points, 10 points more than second-placed Sreenidi Deccan FC.

While Vergetis side formed a reputation for their attack, scoring a league-high tally of 52 goals, their defence was equally unshakable. The side conceded just 16 goals while registering 12 clean sheets in the process. 

4) Indian talents with plenty to offer

Punjab FC have acquired some fine Indian talents in their ranks who have been part of the ISL and will be hungry to prove themselves. The list includes Prasanth K, Leon Augustine Amarjit Singh Kiyam, Ricky Shabong and Nikhil Prabhu.

Prasanth is the most senior player among them at 26-years-old, while the others still young and yet to reach their full potential. Having struggled for game time in the league during the last few seasons, each of them will be looking to stake a claim in the starting eleven for Punjab FC.   

5) Representing a state with rich football heritage 

Becoming the first club from the state to be part of the ISL, Punjab FC will aim to reach bigger heights after winning the I-League. 

They will be looking to emulate the success of JCT Football Club, the most successful team from the state and one of the historic teams in Indian football. JCT won almost every championship they competed in, including the inaugural National Football Team. Indian players that made a name for themselves at JCT, later went on to represent the Indian national team. At present, Mohali-based Minerva Academy has been one of the most renowned academies in the country, grooming multiple Indian talents who have gone on to play for the national team, at youth and senior levels.

Punjab’s contribution to Indian football is immense, and Punjab FC will hope to further add to that.