Punjab FC head coach Staikos Vergetis stood by his team as his team lost to Mohun Bagan Super Giant by a 3-1 scoreline in their first match in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 season at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Saturday.

Punjab FC conceded two goals in the first half. MBSG’s Australian duo, Jason Cummings and Dimitri Petratos, netted the goals for the Mariners. Though PFC scored one just after the second half started, they could not find the equaliser. MBSG’s Manvir Singh restored the team's two-goal lead from the bench and secured their first victory of the 2023–24 season.

Vergetis was pleased with his team's overall performance but felt they lost the game in certain moments.

“We played our first game. My players were a bit stressed, and some individual mistakes brought us back to zero," Vergetis said in the press conference.

"But in the second half, the team got better. We had one very good period," he added. 

"The big difference between I-league and ISL is the transition game. In ISL, the games have a lot of transitions from both sides and you have to be well prepared for this. We did not play any transitions. This is the difference between the two divisions. I think,” Vergetis continued.

Punjab FC started the second half with more intensity. PFC’s Prasanth Karuthadathkuni got a very good chance in the first minute of the second half, but his shot hit the side netting. Their continuous effort paid off when PFC captain Luka Majcen found the net for the very first time.

The Shers came close to the equaliser, but Ashish Pradhan was denied by the offside flag. The Mariners then took control of the game and left the field with all three points.

Talking about playing a foreign goalkeeper, Vergetis said, "Kiran was the best goalkeeper in the I-League last year. He helped the team as Luka Majcen and Mera a lot. That's why we kept these three players," he said.

"Of course, we have two very good Indian goalkeepers, and depending on the plans of the game, will decide about the four positions. The goalkeeper position is one crucial position in football, and it's not so strange as you think because I have heard this question many times," he concluded.