Punjab FC head coach Staikos Vergetis is wary of the challenges his side may face in the Indian Super League (ISL), but demanded his team to prove themselves on the pitch.

It’s a new era for Punjab FC. They became the first team to win promotion to the ISL after emerging as I-League 2022-23 champions. The Shers topped the standings after winning 16 of their 20 league games while suffering just two defeats all season.

They will be keen to replicate their form in the ISL, but will be up against stronger teams, physically and tactically. Vergetis recognised the challenge in hand for his side and demanded them to prove themselves on the pitch.

“We recognise the difficulties. We will prepare and face them (opponents). We are preparing for the unexpected also but we cannot promise anything, we have to show it out on the field,” he said during the ISL Media Day in Kolkata.

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Punjab FC will take of defending ISL Cup winners Mohun Bagan Super Giant in their opening fixture in Kolkata followed by an another away trip where they face FC Goa. They will play their first ISL home game on October 6 as they host NorthEast United FC. They will play just three of their opening ten fixtures at home. Vergetis stated that his side need to prepare game by game and treat every fixture as a final.

“Each game for us is like a final. We have to plan according to the opponent, prepare and give everything game by game. We will see how far we can reach (end of the season),” said the Greek tactician.

Punjab FC have not only retained the core of the team from last season, but have also signed some promising Indian talents going into the first ISL season. Leon Augustine, Amarjit Singh Kiyam, Prasanth K, Nikhil Prabhu, Mashoor Shereef are among the new faces - all who have featured in the ISL previously.

Commenting on their transfer window, Vergetis said: “I feel that we did the correct movements during the summer. We kept 14 players from the previous year. In football, you cannot keep everyone happy. Apart from these 14 players, we took some talented players from Indian football. We also have good young Indian players who we hope to help become professional players in the coming years.”