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From Evading Spain To Indian National Team Selection – The Ishan Pandita Story

A few months ago, Ishan Pandita was not inclined to fly back to his native land but was forced to do so with the prevailing pandemic situations. Currently, he’s an overnight sensation in India and one of 35 players to have been selected by national coach Igor Stimac for upcoming assignments.

Till the midway of the ongoing 2020-21 ISL, people knew Ishan Pandita as just another young footballer, waiting in the sidelines to get his opportunity. Roll down the time by a few matches, the Delhi-boy has a serious purpose in the FC Goa unit, while Indian football fans specifically keep an eye on him towards the ending stages of a game to produce the magic he often does. Having played just 56 minutes across nine matches and scoring four goals – all after the 83rd minute, just defines why he the ‘super sub’ every team would want in their ranks.

But, he’s got more tricks up his sleeves for sure. Not every footballer gets to play their youth career in Spain and bump into the Indian football scene when his peaking has just taken-off. It’s just that he’s waiting for some more game time to unleash his best, with the knowledge he’s gained so far during his stint in Europe, where he went through rigorous training sessions in his youth career, along with a small stint with professional side Lorca FC.

“Obviously, it’s been massive (the exposure in Spain), the exposure I got in Spain and the experience I got was fantastic and without that, I wouldn’t be myself today I guess. I would recommend any young player, who has the opportunity to go abroad – to definitely take it. The experience is worth it, to be honest. The things we learn, the way we grow as a person, not just on the field but character as well. It takes us to another level that we, unfortunately, do not have yet in India, so it has been great in Europe and had a great time there,” said Ishan Pandita, during an exclusive interview with SportsCafe.

Having seen the two different football structures in his career so far – India and Spain, Ishan is a footballer with less experience but rich eyes, having scrutinized both worlds with deep insights. While India is still taking long strides to keep up the pace with the leading nations in the trade, there’s no denying that the scope for improvement is vast. Even though India have produced physically strong players in recent times, the tactical aspect of the game has let them down on the international stage. Having patience and consistency is India’s mantra to success for the time being.

“I could personally say that it can be broken down into two parts – the physical side of it and the tactical side of it. Physically, when it comes to speed, strength, and all those things, India is up there, I don’t see any issue at all. India has some great players, they’re strong, they’re fast, physically we’re up there – up to the mark,” explained the FC Goa striker.

“But, all coaches say, tactically, we’re still below the standards in Europe. That’s what we learn there (in Europe) at a very young age – positioning, the work that’s done off the ball, the movements, to be in the right place at the right time. All these things come with time, and that’s what I feel India is lacking at the moment.”

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