Punjab FC head coach Staikos Vergetis has urged his players to show character and display a more competitive attitude as his team faces Bengaluru FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) at Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Thursday.

Having earned a promotion to the ISL this season, Punjab FC are yet to secure their first win in the league and find themselves struggling at the bottom of the table with only three points after seven matches. The Shers almost secured their first three points against Hyderabad FC; however, conceding a late goal squandered their chances.

Vergetis, who managed Punjab FC to clinch the I-League title last year, was asked about the differences between both divisions.

“One difference between the two divisions (ISL and I-League) is that, mostly, I think that the game here is faster; it has more transitions from defence to attack and the opposite. The teams have the quality to reach the opponent's area very fast, and this makes the sport more interesting for the people who come to the stadium to watch on TV,” Vergetis said in the pre-match press conference.

Discussing their recent performances in the ISL, the Greek head coach highlighted the challenges his team faced, attributing the loss of points to their own difficulties. He noted that in most of the matches where they fell short, his team experienced narrow defeats.

Vergetis urges his players to work hard and adopt a more competitive approach to secure their first ISL win.

"For us, there are difficulties. We try to be competitive, apart from one game (against Chennaiyin FC), all the other games we have lost by a goal. Until now we have not succeeded in winning any game. This has hurt us but made us insist more on our work. The success will come," he stated.

Bengaluru FC captain Sunil Chhetri, who has already scored three goals in the ISL 2023–24 season, is just five goals away from surpassing Bartholomew Ogbeche, to become the highest goalscorer in the history of the ISL.

With his team set to face Chhetri in their upcoming away game, Vergetis was questioned about any special plans to stop the prolific striker.

“It's not a matter of one player; it's a matter of the function of the team. Our players have received the information that they need to receive. They believe that they appropriately execute their task. We know that if you miss a player for one second, he will kill you. This is the unexpected moral that we are afraid of. We'll try to control him as better as we can, and we'll try to anticipate this moment,” he explained.

Leon Augustine attended the pre-conference with his head coach and shared his enthusiasm for getting back to Bengaluru, where he kicked off his career. The Kerala-born winger also spoke about his decision to switch stints and join Punjab FC. Speaking in this context, he stated:

“It was a hard decision (leaving Bengaluru FC) for me, like one of the hardest decisions,” Augustine said.

“But looking up for my future, I had to compete with one of the best players. So, for more game time, I just had to take a big step, and I'm just trying my best to do with the team. So, getting adapted is not easy for me. So new coach, new staff, new game staff, so I'm just getting adapted, taking my time, I'm doing my best in the training, so I'm keeping going,” he added.

Augustine couldn't contain his excitement about returning to Bengaluru and eagerly expressed his desire to meet the BFC fans.

Sharing his excitement, he said: “It's home. It's always home. I started my football career in Bangalore.”

“I played for eight years starting at the academy, and it's always great to be back home. I'm very excited to meet the West Block Blues and play in my home,” the winger added.