Sensational Pandita hopes FC Goa go all the way and win their first Hero ISL trophy

Ishan Pandita has been quite a revelation in Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21 so far. Without having started even once for FC Goa this season, the striker has scored four goals and helped the Gaurs earn crucial points on so many occasions. His contribution gets even bigger in size and significance when one considers that FC Goa had to wait for their last game of the league stage to qualify for the semis, a goalless draw against Hyderabad FC, who – if truth be told -- could have spoiled their party with a win in that contest. One can say that Pandita’s late goals (four in 56 minutes across nine games) proved crucial and kept his team in the semis race to a large extent.

All his goals came in the last few minutes of games and he helped FC Goa salvage a point in three of them against the likes of Mumbai City FC, ATK Mohun Bagan and Chennaiyin FC and one goal came in victory (against Hyderabad FC, the first time these teams had met this season) as Igor Angulo, shortly after Pandita’s equaliser, scored to seal the win for Juan Ferrando’s men.

FC Goa now play Mumbai City FC in the first leg of Semi-final 1 on Friday and Pandita, in his first Hero ISL season, is looking beyond the semis and targeting nothing else but the prestigious trophy itself which has eluded the Gaurs so far despite reaching the semi-final six times and final twice. “I think at a club as big as FC Goa that has been so successful these past few years and has always made the semi-finals, it was always important to make it to the semis again this year. We’re all happy that we were able to achieve that. Now we have two semis [two legs] and hopefully another final. We’re ready and we’re putting in the work, and hopefully we can win that first Hero ISL trophy,” Pandita told ahead of the game.

Pandita played a lot of football in Spain for teams like Pobla Mafumet and Lorca FC before returning to India ahead of the ongoing season. Just a few of days ago, he also found himself in India’s preliminary squad for a couple of international friendlies. Talking about his experience so far in the league, the 22-year-old said: “There are always two sides to a coin. If you look at it, I've only played 50-odd minutes. But, on the other hand, I have scored four vital goals for the club. I can say that it has been pretty good so far. I wish I could have played a few more minutes, but that is not important right now. I just have to do my bit to help the team get to the final and hopefully win the Hero ISL trophy.”

When asked what helps him score such late goals, Pandita said: “All four goals have been very important for us, and they have come at the most crucial points of the season. All I can say is that I'm hungry and ready to perform. Every time I am on the field, I want to help the team, so I am just hungry to score, passionate and I am happy that things have been clicking.”

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