Ishan Pandita on LFL show: 'Give a lot of credit to Igor Stimac for my India performance'

India men’s football team striker Ishan Pandita who’s also known as the super sub of Indian football believes that a longer calendar in the upcoming Hero Indian Super League (ISL) season would benefit the country and all the players because more game time would help the players improve on all fronts.

The 22-years-old striker was part of the Indian team who recently created history by securing a back-to-back qualification to the AFC Asian Cup for the first time. In the final qualifier game, the Blues defeated Hong Kong 4-0.

In the match against Hong Kong before introducing Pandita, Anwar Ali (2'), Sunil Chhetri (45'), and Manvir Singh (85') all registered themselves on the scoresheet. Igor Stimac introduced the striker in the final ten minutes. Pandita who started his Hero ISL career with FC Goa before switching to Jamshedpur FC played accordingly to his reputation and scored his first goal for his nation in the dying minutes.

Watch full LFL show featuring Ishan Pandita below: 

The striker featured on the Let's Football Live show with Kaushik Varun, Shaiju Damodaran, Pulasta Dhar, and Suyash Upadhyaya and spoke about his first India goal, introduction of a longer domestic season, and a lot more.

Here are the excerpts from the interaction:

Kaushik Varun: You have played under a lot of coaches and you have spent a lot of time with Igor Stimac now both off the field and on the field. So, What is that thing you really like about his approach?

Ishan Pandita: Obviously, I have to give a lot of credit to the Igor Stimac.  Because he is the coach that gave me my national team debut last year in Dubai. Then this year, he's the one who gave me the opportunity to come on the field, and I scored my first goal. So a lot of credit goes to him. He's helped me a lot on and off the field. And luckily enough, this time, we had a nice amount of time together. We started quite early in Bellary. Then we went to Kolkata and it was just been a great experience so far.

Shaiju Damodaran: What were the exact words which Igor said to you just before you were coming off the bench against Hong Kong?

Ishan Pandita: If I remember correctly, I'm pretty sure he said this is your moment. You have 10 odd minutes, if I'm not wrong, go out there, do what you can, and get a goal for your country. I think it went something like that.

Pulasta Dhar: When you as a striker read news like, that a longer domestic season is happening this year. What is the feeling and what does it do to you in terms of motivating you?

Ishan Pandita: I mean, only good things can come from this. Since I've come to India, I've been used to a very small season, not like one that we're normally used to in the world of football. So finally, to get a proper season, you can say for a season with a lot more games is only going to benefit the country, myself, and all my teammates, because now we have games to improve and we have more minutes and you only get better with games. So it's exciting and we're all looking forward to it.

Pulasta Dhar: As a player for you longer season means more games, more minutes. So personally, as a striker to cement your place in a team how good is that?

Ishan Pandita: It's exciting. Obviously, I've struggled so much as I've come to India with getting games and getting minutes because the whole four foreigners by foreigners and a striker are always playing as a number nine. And I'm very keen on staying where am I don't want to shift to the wings or play behind the striker. And I think with time and with patience, I can make that position mine. I just have to be a bit calm and humble at the moment. But like I said this upcoming season if we do get more opportunities and more minutes, I can only grow from it and benefit from it, and helps Indian football for sure.

Suyash Upadhyaya: Well. As you know there was the Reliance foundation development league that happened earlier about a couple of months back and Bengaluru FC and Kerala Blasters FC were the two teams that basically qualified for the Premier League next gen cup. So, they're going to be flying there to the UK later in the year and facing high-quality opposition over there. What’s the one piece of advice that you can give to the youngsters traveling to the Premier League next gen cup?

Ishan Pandita: I personally feel any form of exposure is the best thing that can happen to our youth at the moment. I will always encourage clubs or teams, etc. To go outside, go to Europe, play friendlies there, do pre-season there and get that exposure and that feel of football where someplace where it's real and it's been done before. I mean, if I can meet them right now. Just tell them to play with a smile. Enjoy the small moments go out there. No fear just as you have when you were playing here in India, enjoy the learning and make the most of it. You never know what's going to happen in football.

Shaiju Damodaran: What kind of change did Spain made in your life and your own football career?

Ishan Pandita: I think not just as a player, but as a person. I think I grew up very fast. I was young and made a lot of mistakes. I got the experience of a world that was new and so fast. So, if I didn't adapt and develop fast, I will be left behind. So, I think as a player physically I changed a lot. I was quite a skinny kid in India. I was skinny, but when I went to Spain, I sort of put on some weight some muscle grew up from a boy to a young man, and even technically game understanding everything you learned everything there. And I think that has benefited me a lot when I played because I always seem to be in the right place at the right time.

Kaushik Varun: During the course of commentary, we often call you like the super-duper sub. Do you really like this tagline?

Ishan Pandita: If I had to be very honest, I obviously don't really like it. But it is what it is like for every other player. I want to be on the field from minute one. And just the way things have been since I've come back, I haven't been able to get that. So just doing what I'm doing right now, I am blessed. And I'm happy that I've made the impact that I have come on the field with such few minutes. So, if people want to keep calling you that, and that makes them happy. It's okay. But there will come a day where I will start games and I will score.

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