Punjab FC head coach Staikos Vergetis expressed delight in his team’s second-half performance as they wrapped up their inaugural season in the Indian Super League (ISL) with a 4-1 win over East Bengal FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi on Wednesday.

The Shers started strong right from kick-off, scoring a 19th-minute opener through the feet of Wilmar Jordan. Although the Red and Gold Brigade were quick to react, snatching an equalizer within the next six minutes, courtesy of a Sayan Banerjee goal, Punjab FC managed to take a lead into the second half with Madih Talal bagging his sixth goal of the season minutes before the halftime whistle.

In the 62nd minute of the match, Jordan completed his brace, doubling the lead for Punjab FC. Luka Majcen dealt the final blow of the night to East Bengal FC by finding the back of the net in the 70th minute, concluding the match 4-1 for the Shers.

The head coach acknowledged that his team did make a few mistakes in the first half but praised their second-half performance, tagging them as unstoppable.

“Regarding the game, I think that the team worked the plan that we had put in a very good way, and to a very high level in all the phases of the game. We had a little problem in the first half with the transitions, but we fixed that during one internal change,” stated Vergetis after the game.

He added, “But in the second half, we were unstoppable, and we scored, and we could have scored more goals. The team showed that they have one dynamic.”

Punjab FC conceded 35 goals in the ISL 2023-24 season, and only Hyderabad FC conceded more goals (40) than them; but the Shers have showcased their prowess upfront, scoring 28 goals during the season.

Vergetis’ men have consistently had their goals equalized soon after stealing a lead throughout the season, as was also the case against East Bengal FC.

Addressing this problem, the Greek tactician shared, “This is true, that we conceded goals from one region, a very, very small region. One second, one loss of concentration (and we conceded). And we paid for this throughout the league. This happened today. But the good thing that we had is that when we received a goal, we didn't give up and we tried much more.”

Manglenthang Kipgen was handed his first start of the season on Wednesday, and the youngster was nothing short of brilliant, creating four goal-scoring chances, including an assist, while also making two successful tackles, two clearances, and three interceptions.

Vergetis is full of praise for the 18-year-old and opined, “He's one very good player who is coming. It’s the second season that he trained with professional football players, and I think that the future belongs to him. He has a very good quality and very excellent skills in his final passes to control the game. And I'm sure that he will occupy the Indian football scenario in the future for a lot.”

The 47-year-old wrapped up by sharing his outlook on their inaugural campaign in the ISL, having finished off the season on a high note with a win. 

“I am happy with the score, but in the last few games, in some details, we missed the chance to go to the sixth position. And this gives us a sense of sadness,” he signed off.