Punjab FC head coach Staikos Vergetis assessed the significance of securing three points against NorthEast United FC at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Thursday.

It was an end-to-end encounter for both teams, battling toe-to-toe to secure three crucial points and improve their chances of reaching the final playoff spot. However, Wilmar Jordan Gil’s composed spot-kick in the 63rd minute turned out to be the decider as Vergetis’s men prevailed over the Highlanders, climbing to the ninth spot in the league table with 20 points in 18 games.

Following their 1-0 victory against Juan Pedro Benali’s team, the Shers are now unbeaten in their last five away games in the ISL.

Analyzing their game against NorthEast United FC, the Greek coach emphasized the importance of converting chances. He also mentioned that his players seized opportunities to break the deadlock, propelling them to secure a crucial victory against the Highlanders.

“I believe it was the type of game where the deciding factor was which team could score the goal to be the winner. We succeeded in scoring the goal, and we took one important victory,” Vergetis shared in the post-match press conference.

This result will undoubtedly boost the Shers' confidence as they continue their pursuit of the final playoff spot. Vergetis also placed a high value on these three points and commended his players for their unwavering focus and commitment, which ultimately secured the victory. Speaking in this context, he stated,

“Today, we played a game that was a win-or-die situation for us; even though I tried not to convey full anxiety to them (the players), but I think they had.”

Against the Highlanders, Punjab FC won all 19 of their attempted tackles, marking the highest tally by any team to maintain a 100% tackle success rate in the ISL 2023–24 season. Dimitrios Chatziisaias led the team from the back, denying the opponent's numerous goal-scoring movements to help his side maintain that slender one-goal lead.

While quizzed about his players’ performance, Vergetis explained,

“Regarding our performance, I would like our team to keep more possession in our favour.”

“We were losing the ball easily in some periods of the game. This created problems for us because it forced us into defensive roles most of the time. We could have been calmer on the ball. It was due to the tiredness of the players who had been playing consecutive games,” he continued.

Madih Talal, who has been playing a pivotal role in his team’s offensive set-up, operated through the middle in the opening half of the game. However, he was observed switching his position to the flanks to avoid his marker and widen the game, utilizing the pitch's dimensions. Reflecting on this tactical move, Vergetis asserted,

"We instructed our two forwards to play closely together and leave Talal on the sides to create superiorities and receive balls out wide. I don't think it worked well."

"We attempted to free up Talal from the central space because, upon analyzing him (Talal), opponents had figured out how to confront him. However, I don't believe our plan worked as effectively as we had hoped,” he concluded.