Punjab FC head coach Staikos Vergetis is fully aware of the formidable challenge his team faces as they gear up to take on Mumbai City FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Mumbai Football Arena in Mumbai on Thursday.

Punjab FC currently finds themselves in a tough spot in the league, sitting in 11th position with just two points earned from their initial five games. They are still in pursuit of their first victory in the ISL 2023-24 season, having suffered a significant 5-1 defeat in their most recent match against Chennaiyin FC. Looking back at their previous game, Vergetis acknowledged the difficulties they faced.

"It is a game that does not make us feel proud. There are crucial moments that we lost," during the pre-match press conference.

Despite the poor results, Punjab FC didn't seem completely out of their element in the previous games leading up to the match against Chennaiyin FC. They managed to hold NorthEast United FC and Jamshedpur FC to draws and put up a strong fight against Mohun Bagan Super Giant and FC Goa, even in away matches. Vergetis believes that his team has remained competitive in the league despite the lack of victories.

"We came in this division to be competitive. Until this game (Chennaiyin FC), we succeeded to be competitive in all the games we played even though we have not won yet," he claimed.

Punjab FC has faced difficulties on the road, losing two out of their three away games this season. They are now facing another stern test against a Mumbai City FC side, that has yet to taste defeat this season. The Islanders have maintained an unbeaten record at home, with one win and one draw. Vergetis emphasised that in modern football, the difference between home and away games has diminished, and his team enjoys playing in various environments.

"Nowadays in football, I believe the gap in home and away games is not so big as it was before," and added, "We enjoy the atmosphere that the fans create everywhere that we go to play, but it does not affect our performance," he said.

Mumbai City FC has started their ISL 2023-24 season with two wins and two draws from their first four games. While they remain undefeated, their performances have not reached the high standards they set for themselves in the previous season. The Islanders have scored seven goals in the league and conceded five times. Vergetis expressed his admiration for Mumbai City FC and their depth.

"Mumbai City FC is a very good team. They have built a squad ready to cover every necessity that a coach needs for the games," and further noted, "They have good players and each player I believe is born to play in the position that he plays, and this is what I like in this team," the Punjab FC head coach said.

Punjab FC's goalkeeper, Ravi Kumar, joined Vergetis in the pre-match press conference. He acknowledged the team's subpar performance in the last game against Chennaiyin FC.

"As a team, everybody knows that we could not perform as good as we wanted to in the last game," Kumar said in the pre-match press conference.

However, he remained optimistic about his team's chances against Mumbai City FC. He said: "The players are confident to play the next game against Mumbai City FC and they will give their best."