Punjab FC head coach Staikos Vergetis expressed his dissatisfaction with his team's performance after they suffered a 3-1 defeat against Odisha FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Tuesday.

The first half saw an attacking performance from both sides, with opportunities arising from quick transitions. Diego Mauricio broke the deadlock for the hosts with a robust header in the 34th minute, leaving his marker on the ground. However, the Shers managed to equalize just before halftime with Madih Talal's precise strike, who had earlier received his February Player of the Month award.

The Kalinga Warriors started the second half with more intensity, launching waves of attacks on Punjab FC's defensive line. Isak Ralte doubled the lead just after the one-hour mark with a clinical finish inside the box, while the Brazilian sealed the victory for Odisha FC with a calm and composed spot-kick in the 68th minute.

Vergetis acknowledged that his players executed their strategic plans correctly in the opening half, allowing them to compete evenly with Sergio Lobera’s team. However, he believed that their failure to convert chances and individual errors in the second half cost his side points tonight.

“In the first half, the team played according to the game plan. We had a very good defensive organization in the middle of the park, (we were) intercepting balls, generating attacks, and creating dangerous situations for the opponent. But when the opponent broke our middle zone - pressed and reached our area we faced problems (dealing with it),” he said in the post-match press conference.

“Second half, we did not start it well, but we had a big chance with Bryce Miranda to make it 2-1. We lost the chance as the opponent's defender made a very good block. After that, we had one very bad action by our player. I don't know why he did this, and he kicked while the ball was kicked out of our defence. Our player kicked the opponent, and the referee was correct to give the penalty, and suddenly, from 2-1, our team went down to 3-1 scoreline,” he explained.

“These are the mistakes that we must not make. Especially in the last two games, if we want to get good results and go for our big target, which is the 6th position,” Vergetis added further.

The Greek head coach was seen substituting Wilmar Jordan Gil with Juan Mera right at the beginning of the second half.

Reflecting on this decision, he shared, "It was a tactical change. We had big problems with the opponent’s two central defenders (Mourtada Fall and Carlos Delgado). (Ahmed) Jahouh was going in between the two of them, and they were in a very good position with the ball. We wanted to put Juan Mera and Madih Talal in between the two central defenders and monitor Jahouh to limit his actions.”

“But the game did not go well. I should've taken out Nikhil Prabhu also, as he was asking for a substitution. I was forced to change and after that, the formation and all the plants had to be modified,” he shared while quizzed about the other substitutions.

After their defeat against the Kalinga Warriors, Punjab FC's playoff hopes have taken a significant hit, and they must secure positive results in their remaining two matches to qualify for the playoffs.

The head coach remains optimistic and believes his players will give their all to reach their desired target.

“Now we'll be focusing on the next game, as we've been doing all week,” he stated.

“We'll analyze the opponent, we'll put plans on the game, and we'll go to play against the opponent with all our hearts. And at the end, we will see where we can reach,” Vergetis signed off.