Ishan Pandita – I joined Jamshedpur FC because I didn’t get the opportunities I thought I had deserved

Ishan Pandita

Jamshedpur FC sealed the signature of Ishan Pandita from FC Goa on a two-year deal in the summer transfer window ahead of the 2021-22 edition of the Indian Super League. The 23-year-old scored 4 goals in 9 appearances for FC Goa in the ISL, averaging a goal in every 14 minutes. However, he failed to make the starting eleven on all occasions.

In an exclusive interview with IFTWC, Jamshedpur FC’s new signing Ishan Pandita opened up about his move to JFC, the changes he’s had to face, his favorite Indian food, and more!

Ishan Pandita - I joined Jamshedpur FC because I didn't get the opportunities I thought I had deserved Ishan Pandita 1 1

Tell us more about your move to Jamshedpur. I’m sure you had other offers from clubs. What interested you about their project and prompted you to sign for them?

“Honestly, at this age, I need to be thinking of minutes and not money. So obviously there were offers, you know which clubs, big teams, big money but at the end of the day I need to play. In Goa, I didn’t get the opportunities I thought I’d deserved. So Jamshedpur was the place that I thought would be good for me. The coach had a big pull in why I came here. He was a striker himself. He told me to come along and grow and develop and I’ll definitely play here so that was the reason why”

Jamshedpur has 3 foreign forwards in their squad. How do you feel about this competition for the starting spot as a striker?

“Obviously competition is fantastic. You need competition, you can never be comfortable. The fact that we have so many great players in this team is gonna help us a lot and is definitely gonna push us to perform better on the field and we will make the playoffs I’m sure.”

You have experience playing in Spain and in your previous club you played under a Spanish coach (Juan Ferrando). How much of a difference in mentality, approach and style of play have you faced here after joining Jamshedpur? How difficult does that change become for a player and how do you cope with it?

“I guess it will be very different. The style of play is not the same at all. In Goa, it is like the Spanish style of play, that you can say- hold the ball, keep possession and then try finishing it off but then I’m sure Jamshedpur will be a bit more direct. An English coach so it’ll be more counter-attacks, more direct and I think it’ll suit my game to be more honest.”

How did you feel when you represented an Indian club in the AFC Champions league and what were your personal and professional takeaways from a competition like that?

“AFC was a massive experience. It was difficult. We were playing against some fantastic opponents so we had to be compact as a team. We didn’t get much ball and it was a lot of defending but still, it was a fantastic experience and can definitely grow and I’ve learned from these kinds of games. So it was amazing and being the first team from India was special.”

Ishan Pandita

You were a crucial part of Goa in their ACL campaign and won some hard-fought points playing against some of the best teams in Asia like Persepolis and Al Rayyan. Meanwhile in the AFC Cup, ATK Mohun Bagan lost to an Uzbekistani club by a big margin. So, what do you think Goa did differently when they faced tougher oppositions and get points?

“I think in Goa we played as a real team like you can say that I got a lot of criticism for not having the ball enough or not attacking or not shooting or not scoring but I had to play for the team and not myself. I had to come back, defend, and keep my position. I had to stay with the six and we had to stay compact. If we were never compact, we wouldn’t be able to pull those sort of results and I think we did pretty well, to be honest.”

After your time in Europe you came to Goa and had an instant impact. Similarly, another player who had a similar journey to yours is Goa’s Mohammed Nemil who has had a fantastic Durand Cup. So how do you think going abroad at a young age helps someone instead of having a youth career in India?

“I mean it can only be beneficial. If you keep your head grounded and you don’t get distracted, going to Spain can only benefit you or Europe as a matter of fact you grow and develop with the best players in the world, you learn the system and not just as a player, as a person also you mature faster. You understand what it’s like to be on the field, take the pressure. And now you can see with Nemil as well, he’s doing fantastic.”

How was your experience in Lorca FC under former La Liga striker Walter Pandiani? How much of an impact has he had in shaping you as a forward?

“I think it was massive. That one season I had with Lorca with Pandiani was massive. It really developed me and he really helped me, like a father-to-son sort of relationship. That’s always special when you have that kind of relationship on the field and off the field so I grew a lot as a player, I learned a lot and I’m hoping to replicate some of that in Jamshedpur with Owen.

How did you feel when you were called up to the national team and how much would it mean to you to be part of the squad again?

“I mean obviously, playing for your country is sort of the highest form of pride and standard. Whenever I get the call up I’ll always defend the colors to my fullest. Right now I’m not there, it’s alright. We go to Jamshedpur, we fight again and sure I’ll be back soon.”

What are your personal goals for this season?

“Honestly I’m a striker so I just want to score as many as I can, to be honest, and not just score but contribute in the game. In Goa, I had a big impact every time I came on the field and I’m trying to replicate it better at Jamshedpur. Last year Jamshedpur just missed the playoff I think by a position or two. So this year I’m sure with all the signings and if we do click we’ll definitely be there.”

Ishan Pandita

On a concluding note, can you please give us a message for all your fans?

“Thank you for all the love and support. Since I’ve come back to India last season, I’ve only got love and it feels amazing. I hope once covid is finally over we can meet in person and definitely share some amazing moments.”

The young marksman is ready to get more goals for the Red Miners who boast an exhilarating array of attacking talent. Pandita is set to make his mark on Indian Football.

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