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Ishan Pandita Tipped to be the Future of Indian Football

Ishan Pandita
The Indian Express

A suggestion from his former Espanyol team-mate Walter Pandiani was enough for FC Goa manager Juan Ferrando to make virtual, a sightless signal. “Walter told me,” Ferrando said: “Ishan is the future of Indian football.” He quickly tempers expectations. “But that’s football, isn’t it?”

This sums up the excitement and concern close to Ishan Pandita. The 22-year-old forward is debatably one of India’s most exciting and talked about young players. Some even see him as Sunil Chhetri’s successor and eventually lead India’s front line.

It’s an impressive resume for a young Indian player. “Maybe he can be an example for a lot of other young Indian players,” said Ferrando.

“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it was difficult to find a club in Spain. So, I presumed it was the appropriate time to go back to India. I was enrolled in the British School of Manila, and that’s where it all started”

Ishan Pandita

“Football, track, field, and swimming… Swimming was number one, and Football was number two. But after the family moved to Bengaluru in 2009, the priorities were reversed. “I lived an hour and a half from the facility, so the situation made it difficult for me to continue swimming and I gradually went to Football,” he says.

After moving to Bengaluru, I continued association with the age group team of the Manila-based Makati Football Club. In 2013, Makati represented the Philippines at the Gothia Cup, where Pandita was part of the squad were stood out from the team.

In 2014, however, joined Alcobendas CF. This decision got the ball rolling, and Pandita’s performance caught the attention of newly-promoted La Liga Leganes, who offered the deal.

Ferrando, who signed Pandita from FC Goa, claims to have seen him play at Lorca. “Leganes was playing in a high category against youth teams … a very difficult category because a lot of good teams are from this region,” said Ferrando.

Explaining a normal youth organization in Spain, Ferrando adds: “When you play U-19 in Spain, you think about Football 24 hours a day. You watch first-team matches because that’s your goal, sometimes you train in their reserves. It’s a very interesting time.”

Ferrando sees as an added advantage that Pandita, during the key teens, was trained by coaches like Pandiani and Asier Garitano.

Their influence is reflected in Pandita’s style of play, and the ability has excited fans of Indian Football, especially since there is a shortage of quality strikers in the country. There is hope that the eternal question of the “who-after-Chhetri” will finally be asked in Pandita.

Pandita has no doubt would have “played one hundred percent for India” had stayed in the country. “But that wasn’t a problem. I was so determined to grow as a player that I knew the call to the national team would eventually come,” he said.