For many years, Ishan Pandita has been viewed by many as the future of Indian football. Having most recently played for Lorca FC in Spain, the youngster has made his way back to India and has signed for Indian Super League (ISL) side FC Goa.
Pandita spoke to Sportskeeda in an exclusive interview where he talked about his time in Spain and his expectations for FC Goa in the upcoming season.
Q. Is there pressure on you coming to FC Goa with a fair wind behind you (having played with a few big clubs around the world)?
Ishan Pandita: Personally, I don't feel much pressure coming to FC Goa. I know what people are writing and I have been told that there are a lot of expectations and such. But at the end of the day, I am trying to stay true to myself, keep my head clear, and I'm just working on training right now. I am going to give my all in training, and hopefully, find the best version of myself. I want to compete and have fun. I don't really feel much pressure and want the season to start as quickly as possible.
Q. How confident do you feel ahead of the 2020-21 ISL season?
Ishan Pandita: I am pretty confident and excited. It's going to be a new experience coming back home to India. I have never played here before, but I am excited and confident and keen to start on this new project at FC Goa. We have signed a lot of young players, we made some good Spanish signings, and the coach is fantastic as well. I am here to do my best, and hopefully, we can have a great season.
Q. Are you confident of filling the boots left behind by FC Goa players like Coro, Hugo Boumous, and Jackichand Singh?
Ishan Pandita: Listen, I am not here to fill anyone's boots. I know that Coro, Boumous, and Jackichand had a fantastic year with FC Goa and they performed very well. Like I said, I am here to just be myself, do my best and find the best version of myself on the field. I would like to help the team and perform to the best of my abilities.
I am here to compete, put in good work, and give my best for FC Goa this season. I am not looking at who was here last year and not trying to fill anyone's shoes. But I am here to give my hundred percent and hopefully we have a fantastic year.
Q. How different do you think this season will be with the pandemic and without the fans in the stadium?
Ishan Pandita: Yes, I do feel that, due to the pandemic, there will be a massive difference when we play in empty stadiums. It is going to feel a bit odd not being able to see the fantastic fans Goa has. FC Goa has one of the best fanbases in India and their support will surely be missed.
But I am also sure that they will be watching back home and rooting for us 24/7. It is up to us to put in the performances for our fans and make FC Goa proud.
Q. Can you describe the experience you have had playing football across the world?
Ishan Pandita: I have had a great experience so far. But, as is always the case, there have been ups and downs. I have had tough times, I have had great times, but overall it has been a great experience. I am very blessed and happy to have been in Spain for the last few years as I have learned a lot.
It is nice to be back home to start a new chapter. Spain was amazing and I would recommend any kid who gets a chance to go abroad to definitely take it. They can learn the way they play in Spain, the mentality, the lifestyle. It is fantastic to grow up in that environment and it will definitely help your game.
Q. Which is your most preferred position - central midfield, attacking midfield or in the wings?
Ishan Pandita: I am an attacking player. My preferred position honestly, is anywhere in the top three, I guess. If you're playing a 4-3-3, I would like to play as a striker. I can also play on the wings as well. I am open to whatever the FC Goa coach would like me to do. But like I said, I am an attacking player, I can play as a 9, a 7 or a 11. I just want to attack, score goals and contribute as much as possible to the team.
Q. How has it been so playing in Spain with Lorca FC?
Ishan Pandita: My experience in Lorca was a good one, in general, I would say until the pandemic in March. Up until then, it was a good year for me. I ended the year being the top goalscorer for my team and it was a good learning for me. I would like to thank my coaches as well for believing in me. Lorca was fantastic, but now I am FC Goa, and hopefully, I can have another great year.