Punjab FC head coach Staikos Vergetis wants his team to remain focused and adhere to the game plan as they prepare to take on East Bengal FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Saturday.

The Shers find themselves in a challenging position, having managed only four draws from their opening eight matches as they continue their hunt for the first-ever win in the ISL.

Punjab FC came close to their first-ever win on a few occasions, with the opportunity arising in the previous fixture against Bengaluru FC. However, Vergetis’s side squandered a two-goal lead, ultimately sharing the spoils with the Blues.

The Greek tactician stressed the significance of drawing lessons from past mistakes, expressing the belief that these errors will play a pivotal role in enhancing the team's maturity for the upcoming matches.

“My team did a lot of better things in the last game as compared to the previous games and I was very happy with that. But, some of our mistakes caused us to lose two points, receiving only one (point) from the three. But these mistakes make us more mature and better for the upcoming games,” Vergetis said in the pre-match press conference.

Punjab FC will be up against a resurgent East Bengal FC side, who are coming into this fixture after an impressive 5-0 victory over NorthEast United FC. The Red and Gold Brigade would love to leverage their home advantage once again and win consecutive matches, a feat they still haven’t achieved since joining the ISL back in the 2020-21 season.

Vergetis underscores the formidable strength of the opposition and thinks that their league standing doesn’t reflect their performance.

“We analysed East Bengal, one team with very good players. I believe that the position at the table that East Bengal is at this moment is not appropriate and for sure they will recover the lost points. (They have) Very good players, we analyzed them, we put our plan of the game and I hope our players will apply this plan to the highest level,” he stated.

Vergetis suggested that they aim to address their mistakes, improve, and take a game-by-game approach, a strategy that proved effective for them last season.

“My mentality is always to see game by game, to stay focused and try to transmit (the idea) into our players for the games that are coming. We are not making plans about the next 5 games. This (idea) worked very well for us last season (in the I-League),” he said.

“All our focus (is) in the next game. What we have not done well, which are our weaknesses, we try to correct or to improve as a team. We have a lot of young players in our team who are playing for the first time in ISL. It is normal sometimes to make mistakes, and to be lost in the field. I expect that in the game tomorrow we will make one more step up in the building up of the team that we want to build,” Vergetis added.

Defender Suresh Meitei joined Vergetis in the pre-match press conference. The 29-year-old has been with the club since the beginning of the 2022-23 season. He emphasized the importance of self-belief and remaining focused on their objectives.

“ISL is very fast and we practice and focus on keeping these things in mind. We always remember that we are here in ISL by becoming the I-League champions,” he said.

The centre-back anticipates a challenging match against East Bengal FC as he shares insights on the opposition side.
“Every player in East Bengal is good and overall they are a good team. We are expecting a very tough match but we will play to the best of our capabilities tomorrow,” Meitei commented.