Punjab FC head coach Staikos Vergetis is looking forward to securing their first points in their introductory season as they prepare to host NorthEast United FC in matchweek 3 of the Indian Super League (ISL) Season 2023-24 at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, in New Delhi, on Friday.

The start of the season has been disappointing for the ISL debutants as they have suffered back-to-back defeats against Mohun Bagan Super Giant and FC Goa, but the Greek tactician believes his team has the right fighting spirit to get back to their winning ways as they have learned their lessons from the previous games.

“As I saw my players fight in the last game against FC Goa, they were battling on the field to secure a draw. This is what I like to see. The first two games were significant lessons for us, particularly in terms of our defensive transition. The moment that we lose the ball we must be more focused, squeeze faster, to put more pressure on the opponent. If we lose one, two, or three seconds, maybe the opponent (could) kill us. This is the biggest lesson that I will show to our players. After this, we have to be more effective in the opponent's area,” Vergetis stated in the pre-match press conference.

“We hope we have a lot of good moments here and that we give a lot of happiness to our fans, to the people of Punjab and to our families. We fought a lot in (the last)one year in the I-League to live in this moment. Even though we have started with two not-so-good results, we will try to take advantage of our home here and succeed in getting our first victory,” the 47-year-old added.

Considering the difference in the level of players in the Indian top-tier league compared to the I-League, it is expected to be a challenge for the team to keep up with their rivals who have been competing in this league for a long time.

Addressing this matter, the head coach added, “We are professionals, both myself and my players. A true professional must adapt to any conditions they encounter in their work. It's a more transition game in ISL, more fast game. From area to area, we have many changes from one situation to the other very fast. Every opponent can take advantage of his offensive transition and from the phase of defence to reach very fast in the opposite area. This is the biggest difference that I can see.”

Midfielder, Madih Talal joined Vergetis in the press conference. The Frenchman, who joined the Shers ahead of the ISL 2023-24 season, shared similar feelings about the league as his coach, stating, “I'm trying to adapt in this new championship for me. It's not easy but with time we'll be better and better. I started to be, I think, better, also with my teammates. I started to understand how the championship play, as the coach said, is more with the transitional, more fast, so how to work and to be better.”

Punjab FC received a boost ahead of the match as Amarjit Singh Kiyam and Samuel Kynshi, who had been representing the Indian national team at the Asian Games, have now joined the club and are available to play against NorthEast United FC.

Vergetis wrapped up the press conference by expressing his delight upon the return of the players.

“I love these youngsters. I work with these youngsters. I'm very happy to work with our young Indian players. One day when I leave India I would like to have left behind some players more ready to take their career in their hands. Amarjit is one of them. I am taking care of these boys very much because it's a challenge in my career,” he concluded.