The 22-year-old opened up on his move to FC Goa, transition phase, Indian football and more.

FC Goa’s young forward Ishan Pandita has recently raised the eyebrows of Indian football fans after his prolific injury-time goalscoring skills. The 22-year-old has scored four goals so far, each of which has been scored in the last quarter of the nine games he has played in the Indian Super League. Thus, the CD Leganes graduate has stormed into the Indian top tier scoring a handful of goals in just 54 minutes of game-time.

Spanish stint changed courses

Born in Delhi, Ishan Pandita was not from a family that was sound in sports. Rather it’s him who took the first step in the world of professional sports. Speaking about the time when he chose football as a career, he said, “I decided to take up football professionally when I was in Bengaluru. I was 12-13, juggling between swimming and football. At that point, I decided to prefer football over swimming because there was no good facility for swimming near my neighborhood.”

Furthermore, he believes it was his stint in Spain that helped him to transform into a better footballer as he said, “It was a complete learning experience for me. The exposure and facilities that they provided helped me a lot to bring out the best in me.”

Desire to get into the national team

Talking about how the FC Goa move came about Ishan Pandita described, “Last season, the pandemic things got a bit tough there in Spain and for a long time I was thinking of making a mark to get into the national team. As you know, people were mostly unaware of me and thus, I wanted to explore opportunities in India.”

“It is then that the FC Goa opportunity came and I chose to make a move.” He further said, “Before joining FC Goa, I was looking at their signings and especially the coach and major players being Spanish, I decided to join the Gaurs.”

Though Ishan spent a long time abroad, the young man was following the proceedings in Indian football regularly. “Watching games from Spain was a bit hard so I had to rely on my father for the results thus, I was sound about the league and its results.”

“Playing for the Indian national team is my ultimate dream and it is for that reason I joined ISL. I really want to represent my country and contribute to the blue jersey,” said FC Goa starlet Ishan Pandita as he got up close and personal with Khel Now in an exclusive interview.

FC Goa’s transition phase

“This season we have a new coach and we have tried to play under a new style, therefore things have been tough as any other transitions,” admitted Ishan Pandita while depicting FC Goa’s journey in the ongoing session so far. He believes, “We have a new bunch of players and it always takes time for a set of players to glue together on the pitch.”

“I think the stalemates depict the indomitable spirit that we bring on the pitch,” he quoted, when asked about his thoughts on the string of draws that FC Goa have suffered this season.

WATCH: Ishan Pandita scored an injury-time equalizer to help FC Goa earn a crucial point against Mumbai City FC

Gaurs eye nothing but a win against Hyderabad

FC Goa have one last chance to seal their berth in the playoffs as they face the Nizams this weekend in a do-or-die match. Sharing his thoughts on the fixture, Ishan Pandita seemed quite confident. “Preparations are in full swing for the match against Hyderabad as we eye nothing but a win. We want to get into the playoffs and get the job done by winning the league.”

While he has often started from the bench, the striker has not yet made into the starting lineup. Reflecting on it, Ishan Pandita said, “I am happy to help the team win as I am trying to provide my best on the field. I am ready to start whenever the coach needs me.”

AFC Champions League is a massive opportunity

Ishan Pandita joined FC Goa on a one-year deal and has proved himself to be one of the most crucial additions made by the think tank this season. Asked about his plans for the upcoming season, he said, “At this moment, I am focused on the next match and not thinking about next season. Next, we have the AFCs and it’s a big opportunity for me to represent India at the Asian stage and that too for the very first time.”

India has talent, but lack the facilities

“Youth development in India has really progressed in the last five to six years,” opined Ishan Pandita, who spent a major part of his amateur career playing in the Spanish developmental sides. He said, “Every ISL team now has an U-18 side and is giving grassroots talents the exposure that they need to get into the top level. FC Goa have been doing a fantastic job with the local lads and because of their belief in youth, I am here today.”

Asked about the difference between the two countries, the youngster made a very significant statement. He said, “In Spain, things are really of top quality. As a country, India has a lot of talents in the U-12 to U-13 age group, but they lack the facilities and the professionalism that Spain provides to their U-12s. Thus, we have come over halfway, but need to improve more to reach the global stage.”

Message for the Gaurs’ faithful

“I don’t think playing in Goa has given us an added advantage as I believe it was even for all the teams,” Ishan Pandita stated. “There is no advantage for a home team without the home crowd and its support.”

Sharing a message for the fans while signing off, he said, “Though the fans couldn’t get into the stadium, we felt their support and love for the team through social media. Keep supporting us and hopefully, we will meet soon in the next season as I am really keen to meet you guys.”

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