First of many in the national kit for Super Ishan Pandita

With the 2023 edition of the AFC Asian Cup drawing closer, the Indian National team were placed in the Group D of the qualification stage for the coveted tournament with 3 other international teams with the same aim - qualifying for the AFC Asian Cup. Players from different Hero ISL clubs were shortlisted to represent the Blue Tigers and Ishan Pandita from Jamshedpur FC was included in the final squad for the qualifying fixtures. 

With all the fixtures being held in India itself at the VYBK Stadium, Kolkata, the campaign started on a bright note for the Blue Tigers with a 3-0 win over Cambodia in their first game. On the back of a dominant victory, the lads picked up the required momentum and produced their second win against Afghanistan in the next fixture after drama unfolded in the final moments of the tough game with India taking the lead in injury time. 

Just a few hours before the Blue Tigers stepped into their final qualifying game against Hong Kong, they were deemed qualified for the Asian Cup 2023 following Palestine's win over Philippines. 

Later, India laid havoc over Hong Kong with a full-time score of 4-0 in which Ishan Pandita was one of the goalscorers which helped India close their qualifying group stage campaign in style, thus remaining undefeated throughout the tournament. 


The Jamshedpur forward came off the bench in the final moments of the game and kept his ‘Ishan Time’ tradition alive as he went on to score his debut international goal while repping the blue national kit in injury time; he added the final nail in the coffin to close the victorious night. In the post-match interview, Ishan shared his feelings on scoring his first goal for India.

“It’s always a special feeling to score the first goal for your country and to represent the nation means everything to me. First of many to come hopefully and I am very excited to be a part of the upcoming AFC Asian Cup, next year for which we need to keep working hard as a team”. Captain, Sunil Chettri, went on to congratulate him and wished even more success to the young striker. 

With a big smile on his face, Ishan Pandita also stated that he’ll be using the match ball as his pillow for the night. Team India topped the Group D table with a total of 9 points and just one goal conceded with their eyes set on the AFC Asian Cup 2023. 

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